Diet and timing can affect cardiovascular health

By Karin Lillis • Published: April 17th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s no secret that you have to eat smart to help keep your heart healthy. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meat and fish is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. But when — and how often — you eat might also affect your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

In a scientific statement published in the journal Circulation, researchers noted there is a “growing body of research” suggesting that diet, and the timing of meals and snacks, can influence heart and vascular disease and stroke risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood glucose levels and obesity.

For example, studies have shown that people who do not eat breakfast, about 20 to 30 percent of Americans, run a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity.

The authors believe there is a link between how and when food is consumed and the body’s internal clock. They cited a study involving an animal model in which calorie intake during an inactive state, like sleeping, reset the animals’ body clock and altered nutrient absorption. That led to increased weight gain, inflammation and insulin resistance.

They also said eating mindfully can help combat emotional eating, in which emotions trigger eating episodes in people who are not really hungry, causing them to eat too many calories from food with low nutritional value.

The authors called for additional studies involving larger patient samples, over longer periods, to measure outcomes for conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

In the meantime, they urged people to pay attention not just to what but when you chow down.