July 13, 2024

Why Eating Late Could Kill You: Study reveals ideal dinnertime

It’s time to put a fork in your late-evening eating habits. A study from the University of Sorbonne in Paris, France found that people who ate dinner after 9 p.m. may have an increased risk of suffering from a stroke or mini stroke. 

The study of 100,000 people, published in the journal Nature Communications, occurred over seven years. Each of the participants tracked their meal times on weekdays and weekends and researchers monitored their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Over the course of the seven years, a third of participants ate their dinner before 8 p.m. and another third after 9 p.m. In that time frame, 2,000 people suffered complications of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.

Those who dined after 9 p.m. were 28% more likely to suffer stroke. In fact, for every hour after 8 p.m. that someone ate their dinner, their chances of having a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), in which blood supply to the brain is only briefly interrupted, increased by 8%.

A TIA is a period of a few minutes during which people have similar symptoms to that of a stroke, but it doesn’t cause permanent damage. Around 1 in 3 people who suffer a TIA will have a full-blown stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

Eating late creates risks because digesting food later raises both blood sugar and blood pressure, the researchers explained. 

Higher evening blood pressure potentially damages blood vessels over time and raises the risk of heart attack or stroke. 

That said, people who ate dinner after 9 p.m. didn’t see the same coronary heart risk as with stroke.

Researchers found that women were more affected by late dining hours than men, noting that women also made up 80% of the study cohort.

“Like many people, my grandmother used to warn me not to have dinner too late, and this study suggests there may be some sense in that advice,” Bernard Dour, the senior author of the study said.

“Now we are a 24/7 society, where people feel they never have enough time, many of us often eat later at night,” Dour added. “But people who eat dinner late because they think they are too busy to do so earlier may increase their risk of health problems, although this is seen more in women, and we need more research to confirm these findings.”

On the other hand, men’s health appeared to be more closely tied to the morning. For every hour later that a man ate breakfast, his risk of coronary heart disease rose by 11%, while the rate of all genders was 6%.

The study also found that fasting overnight had health benefits, especially among those who ate dinner early. For every extra hour that someone fasted in the evening, their risk of stroke or TIA decreased by 7%. 

So is there a perfect time to eat? Some seem to think so.

Credit: New York Times

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