The Best Time to Eat for Heart Health

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If you snack impulsively, eat at unusual times, or chow down before going to bed, chew on this: Irregular eating can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

So says the American Heart Association (AHA), which suggests that sticking to a regular mealtime schedule may help you avoid long-term health problems. Unhealthy eating has become more common over the past 40 years, a worrisome trend noted by the AHA in a 2017 scientific statement in Circulation. Scientific statements generally include a review of data available on a specific subject.

The authors reviewed studies that measured the effects of erratic and impulsive eating on people’s health. Among the findings were the following:

  • Eating breakfast every day prevents excessive saturated fat intake and minimizes impulsive snacking, both of which can cause weight gain.
  • Eating your heaviest meal late at night may increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke, but the authors warned that most of the studies addressing late-night eating were inconclusive.

The authors stressed that additional research is needed to definitively show that a specific eating pattern can have lasting health benefits.