Food & Your Heart: Is When You Eat As Important As What You Eat?

People who want a healthy heart should be mindful of not only what they eat, but when they eat, according to recent research. Because the various organs of the body have their own clocks, that may affect how we handle food at different times of the day and night.

When it comes to eating, though, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. While we each have unique nutritional needs, there are those common recommendations we all know, like it’s important to eat breakfast and you shouldn’t eat dinner after 8 p.m., but do you know the reason behind these guidelines? It’s time to take a closer look at these recommendations and how the timing of your meals may be essential for heart health.

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

Well, maybe. A number of studies have found that breakfast eaters are generally healthier than breakfast skippers: They tend to weigh less, have better blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, and have lower risks of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).The problem is these studies don't prove that breakfast deserves the credit, though.

Even though there may be debate over the direct health benefits of breakfast, there is no doubt that it helps to provide your body with essential nutrients, boost your energy and metabolism and it can promote focus. However, to get the benefits of breakfast, you should eat within one hour of waking up and it needs to be before 10 a.m., otherwise it falls in the lunch category. 

Should you stick to 3 meals a day?

On one hand, recent studies have shown that those who eat more often during the day have a lower risk of obesity and better cholesterol levels. However, it seems that if the number of calories is kept constant, then it may not affect heart health either way. Therefore, it’s up to personal preference.

Some people do well with grazing throughout the day—as long as the food choices are healthy, and they don’t graze until midnight. But, if you’re someone who struggles to stop eating once you start, it's probably not a good idea to graze your way through the day.

Is eating late at night bad for you?

When it comes to late-night eating, the biggest concern is often whether or not this habit is linked to weight gain. For the most part, recent studies suggest that it isn’t necessarily the timing that’s to blame. In fact, it seems to be the high-fat potato chips and sugary candies that are the snacks of choice during the night.

On top of that, most people aren’t actually hungry that late at night, so whatever they’re munching on is simply adding extra calories and unnecessary amounts of fat and sugar. If you add in sitting in front of the TV or computer to the mix, then eating late at night is certainly a recipe for weight gain and other harmful health effects.

What else can you do to help your heart?

In addition to the heart-healthy basics of eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, it’s important to work with your doctor. Let’s face it, heart health can be complex, especially if you’re trying to navigate your unique risk factors and health needs on your own. With a dedicated team of providers, up-to-date technology and the latest treatment options, Gwinnett Medical Group can help you achieve and maintain good health. 


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