We’ve all heard the well-worn saying about eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. And to be fair there’s a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest it’s an ideal way to plan your meals, at least where your health is concerned. So if you – like many people – tend to do the opposite and have your biggest meal in the evening, perhaps it’s time for a rethink.
Experts who presented research at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 say there’s a very good reason to eat less at night. Their study, which assessed the cardiovascular health of 112 women, aimed to highlight simple lifestyle changes to help boost cardiovascular health.
One of the interesting things the researchers discovered was that while most of the women ate some food after 6pm, those who ate a higher proportion of their daily calories in the evening had poorer heart health. This included having higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and poorer long-term blood sugar control.
Nour Makarem, one of the scientists involved in the research, says lifestyle approaches to prevent heart disease have so far focused on what people eat, and how much. “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 behaviour that can help lower heart disease risk,” she explains.
Dr Kristin Newby, professor of medicine and cardiology at Duke University, believes this research may help women manage their health risks. “I think [this study] 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,” she says.
“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.”