Having your dinner before 6pm could improve heart health and reduce the chance of putting on weight and developing type 2 diabetes.
In contrast, the risk of heart disease increases for every 1 percent increase in calories consumed in the evening after 6pm.
So, what a person eats is not the only factor, but eating late and having big meals in the evening can also increase the risk of heart disease.
The study, which involved 112 women with an average age of 33, tested if eating earlier or later in the evening could have an impact on heart health.
Participants who had their meal after 6pm were more likely to have high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and increased body mass index (BMI) which are cardiovascular disease risk markers.
Here is the summary of their findings:
- Women who ate a large proportion of their daily calories after 6pm had poorer blood sugar control, higher blood pressure and higher BMI.
- Consuming even an extra 1 percent in calories after 6pm worsened participants’ heart health, leading to an increased level of cardiovascular disease risk markers.
Dr Nour Makarem, the study’s leader, said:
“So far, lifestyle approaches to prevent heart disease have focused on what we eat and how much we eat.
These preliminary results indicate that intentional eating that is mindful of the timing and proportion of calories in evening meals may represent a simple, modifiable behavior that can help lower heart disease risk.”
Modern lifestyles push people to get up early and eat late, which disrupts the body’s natural cycles or body clock.
Past studies have shown that eating late at night can cause weight gain and raise insulin levels.
A study suggests that eating breakfast 90 minutes later and dinner 90 minutes earlier reduces body fat and improves weight loss.
Professor Kristin Newby, commenting on the study, said:
“I think it provides some really interesting insights into an aspect of nutrition and how it relates to cardiovascular risk factors that we really haven’t thought about before.
It is never too early to start thinking about your heart health whether you’re 20 or 30 or 40 or moving into the 60s and 70s.
If you’re healthy now or if you have heart disease, you can always do more.
That goes along with being heart smart and heart healthy.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 in Philadelphia.