It’s not just what you eat — it’s when. A new study suggests consuming meals late at night may harm our cardiovascular health.
Is eating later in the evening dangerous to your heart? A new study concludes that when we consume most of our calories can be just as harmful to our cardiovascular health as what we eat.
The report, presented at a recent American Heart Association conference, analyzed the eating patterns of 112 women who recorded what they ate and when for the first week of the study and one week 12 months after the study began. After reviewing the participants’ food diaries, researchers noted that women who took in a greater proportion of their daily caloric intake after 6 p.m. put their heart health at risk. In fact, the odds of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes spiked 1 percent when more calories were consumed at night. Let’s review how late-night eating affects your heart.
Why Nighttime Eating Harms Your Heart
Our bodies go through a natural cycle every day based on sunlight and darkness. We know when it’s time to wake up and when to sleep. We also regulate our daily routine with our eating patterns. When we consume meals at unusual times, that rhythm is disrupted, which could lead to some serious health conditions, including:
- Diabetes. Nighttime eating increases the amount of insulin, fasting glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides in the body. When those levels increase, the chances of developing diabetes and heart disease rise.
- Hypertension. When you’re awake, your blood pressure gradually rises throughout the day. At night, your blood pressure drops as your body relaxes. However, when you have late-night meals, your blood pressure continues to rise and remains at an elevated level that could lead to heart disease.
- Weight Gain. A 2017 study performed at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed the metabolism of nine participants who ate three meals between 8 a.m.and 7 p.m. for one eight-week period and between noon to 11 p.m. for eight weeks. When subjects were put on a late-day eating schedule, they tended to gain weight. Researchers suggest this is because the body isn’t able to process carbohydrates when we snack before bedtime.
Cardiovascular fitness doesn’t rely solely on when we consume our meals, however. While late-night snacking should be avoided for many reasons — including promoting better sleep habits — there are other measures you can take to protect your heart. Exercising regularly, eating heart-healthy meals of fruits and vegetables (at conventional times), and managing chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure all keep your heart working as it should.
Keeping Your Heart Healthy
At Tri-City Cardiology, we specialize in heart health. We use the latest diagnostic tools to assess your cardiovascular status and can recommend treatments to keep your heart in peak condition. We’ll work with you to create an exercise and meal plan to reduce your risk of heart disease, manage high blood pressure, and control blood sugar. In many cases, lifestyle changes can have a major impact on your heart health. Contact us today for an appointmentIt’s not just what you eat — it’s when. A new study suggests consuming meals late at night may harm our cardiovascular health..