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Women Should Eat Most Calories Early In The Day For A Healthy Heart

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It looks like breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. We've known for years that it's important to eat a healthy breakfast in order to fuel our bodies for the busy day ahead but new research is also showing that women who want to remain heart-healthy should try to consume the majority of their calories before 6 pm.

Most people who are health conscious try to limit their late-night eating and thanks to the recent popularity of intermittent fasting, eating after dinner time has become less popular, and it seems that for women that can help lead to a healthy heart. Researchers found that the risk of heart disease increases when a woman consumes most of her daily calories after 6 pm and increases even more if they're consumed after 8 pm., TODAY reports.

The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 where the study’s lead author, Nour Makarem, an associate research scientist at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center explained that when women eat later in the evening they are working against their biological clock.

“We evolved to adopt a 24-hour light and dark cycle, meaning we eat and are active during the day and we sleep at night,” Makarem explained. “But our more demanding work schedules and commutes push everything later and now we are eating at unconventional times.”

Makarem added that “individual organ systems, including the digestive system, have their own clocks. When the clocks in the organs become misaligned with the master clock in the brain, it creates a state of metabolic dysfunction, which can increase the risk of heart disease.” She also noted that “If we’re eating late at night, we’re not metabolizing the food as well as we would during the day.”

Makarem and her colleagues looked at 112 women with an average age of 33 and assessed them using the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 measures. The women were physically assessed at the beginning of the study and then after a period of one year. The women involved in the study kept an electronic food diary of what they ate and when for one week at the beginning of the study and again at the end of the study.

The study found that women who ate more after 6 pm had poorer heart health as well as higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and higher blood sugar.

"So far, lifestyle approaches to prevent heart disease have focused on what we eat and how much we eat," Dr. Makarem said."These preliminary results indicate that intentional eating that is mindful of the timing and proportion of calories in evening meals may represent a simple, modifiable behavior that can help lower heart disease risk."

It may feel odd to be eating dinner so early or it may be difficult to fit into a busy schedule but if eating earlier in the day leads to a healthier body it seems worth it.

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