If the first meal of the day is eaten late, for example by skipping breakfast, or if the last meal of the day is eaten later in the evening, this is associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
A recent study involving experts from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) examined how the timing of meals affects the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease. The results are published in the specialist journal “Nature Communications”.
Cardiovascular diseases and nutrition
Overall, according to the results of the Global Burden of Disease study, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, with almost eight million of the 18.6 million annual deaths from cardiovascular disease worldwide being attributed to diet.
This makes it clear that nutrition plays an extremely important role in cardiovascular disease, with food components in particular being considered as essential factors so far. In the new study, the research team examined to what extent the times of daily meals also play a role.
Analyzed data from over 100,000 people
The daily cycle of food intake, which alternates with periods of fasting, influences the so-called circadian rhythms of various organs in the body. This in turn influences cardiometabolic functions such as the regulation of blood pressure, the researchers explain in a press release.
This suggests that daily meal times also influence the risk of cardiovascular disease. The team therefore examined possible connections using data from a total of 103,389 adult participants in the NutriNet Santé study. To do this, the team determined the timing of meals and their number using repeated 24-hour food records.
Late breakfast increases risk
When analyzing the data, the researchers found that the risk of cardiovascular disease was increased if the first meal of the day was eaten later, for example by skipping breakfast.
Starting from a breakfast before 8 a.m., the risk of cardiovascular disease increased with every hour of delay. A breakfast at nine a.m. was associated with a six percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease than a breakfast at eight a.m., the team reports.
Late dinners increase risk
In addition, the risk of cardiovascular disease was increased by eating late in the day (after 9 p.m.). According to the researchers, a last meal after 9 p.m. is associated with a 28 percent higher risk of cerebrovascular diseases (e.g. stroke) compared to a last meal at 8 p.m.
Effects of nighttime fasting
The time between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day also affected the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to the researchers, a longer duration of overnight fasting was associated with a lower risk of cerebrovascular diseases.
Overall, the results suggest that adjusting meal times could make a significant contribution to the prevention of cardiovascular disease. (as)