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When you eat could make a difference to your heart

A review of recent research finds that the timing of meals (and eating breakfast), may lower cardiac risk factors.

Could the timing of when you eat boost your heart health? Maybe, according to a new scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

The article looks at the scientific evidence that links how often people eat—and when—with increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiac and vascular diseases.

Why would when you eat make a difference? "Meal timing may affect health due to its impact on the body's internal clock,” Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, chair of the group that wrote the article and an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University in New York City, said in a release from the American Heart Association.

Eating while in an inactive phase reset the internal clocks of study animals in a way that can alter metabolism, resulting in greater weight gain, insulin resistance and inflammation, she said. She noted that more research needs to be done on humans, however, before that can be stated as fact.

The Heart Association’s research also finds a link between eating breakfast and lower heart disease risk factors. Studies have found that people who eat breakfast every day are less likely to have high cholesterol and blood pressure, and people who skip breakfast are more likely to be obese, have inadequate nutrition, show evidence of impaired glucose metabolism or be diagnosed with diabetes. Research has also found that if that breakfast includes a good dose of protein, people feel fuller, even through the evening, a factor that can help with weight loss.

So, can you still dive into the Golden Corral buffet if you strategically time your meals and be sure to eat breakfast? Not so fast, says the AHA. They stress that even though when and how often you eat may impact cardiovascular wellness, it’s still important to eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish, while limiting red meat, salt and foods high in added sugars.

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