While eating healthy food is important for overall health, the timing of meals also plays a key role. A new study has found that the time at which people eat could impact the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
For this study, scientists from INRAE, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Inserm, and the Université Sorbonne Paris Nord analysed data from over 100,000 people, followed between 2009 and 2022. The main finding was that eating a late first or last meal is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
The findings, published in Nature Communications, showed that eating the first meal later in the day, such as when skipping breakfast, is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, with a 6% increase in risk per hour delay. Furthermore, a longer duration of night-time fasting – the time between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the following day – is linked to a reduced risk of cerebrovascular disease. Hence, it supports the belief that it’s good to eat the first and last meals earlier in the day, a press statement revealed.
“Several studies over the years have found that time-restricted eating (also known as intermittent fasting) has metabolic benefits, specifically insulin, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and weight improvements,” Anne Danahy, a dietitian told Medical News Daily. It can help in better sugar control along with a bit of weight loss. Furthermore, many people said they sleep better if they don’t eat late in the night, Danahy added.
Previous studies have also shown that eating habits can impact cardiovascular risk. For instance, a 2021 study published in Endocrine Reviews found that intermittent fasting helps prevent chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. “Aligning our daily habit of when we eat with the body's internal clock can optimize health and reduce the risk of disease burden of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and liver disease," the researchers wrote in the study. It can also improve sleep and reduce the risk of obesity, they added.
These studies indicate that intermittent fasting could be an effective strategy to improve quality of life and keep health risks at bay.