Earlier meal times linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease
New research shows that waiting too long in the day to have your first or last meal could have a negative impact on cardiovascular health. The study, which used data from 103,389 people, says that every hour counts when it comes to your mealtimes.
In the burgeoning field of chrononutrition, researchers are discovering that good health depends not only on what you eat, but when you eat as well. That's because the timing of our meals, along with exposure to light, can have an impact on our circadian rhythms and therefore, our health.
A study last year showed that people who ate later into the day burned calories more slowly overall and had genetic changes that led their bodies to store more lipids, which promotes fat growth. Another study just a few months ago showed that diabetics who ate only between the hours of noon and 8 pm lost more weight than those who were put on a normal calorie-restricted diet. And a mouse study from 2022 showed that forcing the rodents to eat only when they were most active at night extended their lifespans by 35 percent.
Now, a group of scientists from a variety of European institutions looked at data from the NutriNet-Santé study, a project launched in 2009 to study the link between nutrition and health among more than 175,000 participants in France. After sifting through the data and adjusting for factors such as age and lifestyle as it related to cardiovascular risk factors, they found 103,389 people to use in their analysis.
The results showed that for every hour someone delayed having breakfast, there was a 6% risk of developing cardiovascular disease. So if one person had their first meal at 7 am and someone else at 10 am, the second person would have an 18% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in their lifetime. What's more, the study found that people who ate their last meal after 9 pm saw a 28% increase in the risk of developing cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke and aneurysm over those who wrapped up their calorie intake before 8 pm.
The study also revealed a link between a lower risk of cerebrovascular disease and a longer period of fasting between a person's dinner and breakfast the next day.
The researchers say further work is needed to examine the link between meal timing and cardiovascular health.
"This work, which needs replication in other large-scale cohorts in different settings and using different and complementary approaches, supports an important role of adopting earlier eating timing patterns, consistently with previous experimental and observational studies," they write in a paper that's been published in the journal, Nature Communications. "These findings suggest that, beyond the nutritional quality of the diet itself, recommendations related to meal timing for patients and citizens may help in promoting better cardiometabolic health."