AHA: Meal Frequency, Timing May Affect Cardiovascular Health

The researchers found that breakfast eaters are generally healthier than breakfast skippers
The researchers found that breakfast eaters are generally healthier than breakfast skippers

HealthDay News — A new statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), published online January 30 in Circulation, highlights what's known – and what's not – about meal timing and cardiovascular health.

The report is a response to the growing evidence that timing matters when it comes to cardiovascular disease risk, lead author Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University in New York City, told HealthDay. The various organs of the body have their own "clocks," St-Onge explained, and that may affect how we handle food at different times of the day and night. 

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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 cardiovascular disease, according to the AHA. Studies that track people in the real world have found that those who eat more often during the day have a lower risk of obesity and better cholesterol levels.

The statement lacks specific rules, such as "never eat after 8 p.m.," or "everyone should eat breakfast." It does, however, suggest that people spread out their calories over a "defined" period of the day – as opposed to either eating a lot over a short period, or grazing from morning until night. Based on the evidence, the AHA says, it's probably a good idea to consume most of the day's calories earlier in the day.

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