In two new studies, researchers found people who spent less time watching TV and regularly ate a healthy breakfast had better heart health.
They had less plaque and stiffness in their arteries and lower risks of heart disease and stroke.
The studies were conducted by a team from National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Previous studies have shown that lifestyle factors are important for heart health. However, they underestimated the risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
In the current study, the team examined heart health along with environmental exposures and lifestyle habits in 2,000 people in Corinthia, Greece.
The participants included healthy people and people with high risk of heart disease. The age range was from 40 to 99 years, with an average age of 63 years old.
The team examined the physical activity and diets in these people. They also tested their artery health to see the risks of heart disease and stroke.
In the first study, the researchers divided participants into three groups based on their TV watching time:
A low amount group watched TV seven hours or fewer during a week, a moderate amount watched seven to 21 hours during a week, and a high amount group watched more than 21 hours a week.
The researchers found people watching the most TV per week were almost twice as likely to have plaque buildup in the arteries compared to people who watched the least TV.
They also found that longer TV time was linked to higher risks of high blood pressure and diabetes.
The findings show that long-term sedentary behavior is harmful to the heart.
In the second study, the team divided participants into three groups based on their breakfast energy:
The high-energy group ate a breakfast contributing more than 20% of daily calories;
The low-energy group ate a breakfast contributing 5-20%of daily calories and skipped breakfast group ate less than 5 percent of daily calories in breakfast.
The researchers found that people who ate a high-energy breakfast tended to have much healthier arteries than those who ate little or no breakfast.
For example, abnormal arterial stiffness was found in 15% of those skipping breakfast, 9.5% of people eating a low-energy breakfast and 8.7% of people eating a high-energy breakfast.
Plaque buildup was also much lower in the high-energy breakfast group.
The team suggests that a high-energy breakfast should be part of a healthy lifestyle.
The findings of the two studies suggest that the small lifestyle choices people make each day can add up when it comes to heart health.
The lead author of the studies is Sotirios Tsalamandris, MD, a cardiologist at the First Cardiology Clinic.
The study findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.
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