When you eat may be as important as what you eat

The American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2018 held in Chicago was the site of a presentation of research that revealed a benefit for consuming the majority of one’s calories earlier, rather than later, in the day.

For the American Heart Association-funded investigation, Dr. Makarem and colleagues analyzed data from 12,708 participants in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, which included men and women between the ages of 18 to 76. On average, subjects in the study consumed about 35.7% of their daily calories after 6 p.m.

The researchers observed an increase in risk factors for diabetes, including fasting glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance in association with each 1% increase in the number of daily calories consumed later than 6 p.m. Among the 56.6% of the participants who consumed more than 30% of their calories after 6 p.m., there was a 23% higher risk of developing hypertension and a 19% greater risk of becoming prediabetic in comparison with the risks experienced by those who consumed less than 30% of their daily intake after 6 p.m.

There is increasing evidence that when we eat is important, in addition to what we eat and how much we eat," noted Dr. Makarem, who is a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University Medical Center. "In our study we show that if you eat most of your calories before 6 p.m., you may have better cardiovascular health. Your meal timing matters and eating earlier in the day may be an important strategy to help lower the risk for heart disease."