Eating breakfast and dinner earlier could be best recipe for healthier life

PARIS, France — Having breakfast early and avoiding late dinners can lower the risk of heart attacks or strokes, new research suggests.

An international team, led by French scientists, finds that people who eat their first meal at 9 a.m. have a six-percent higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease than those who have breakfast at 8 a.m. Additionally, eating after 9 p.m. is linked to a 28-percent increased risk of cerebrovascular diseases, such as strokes, especially in women, when compared to eating before 8 p.m.

These findings also reveal that a longer duration of “night-time fasting” – the period between the last meal of the day and the first meal the next day – is associated with a reduced risk of stroke.

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes, are the leading cause of death globally, according to the Global Burden of Disease study. In 2019, these diseases accounted for 18.6 million deaths annually, with about 7.9 million linked to diet.

Researchers attribute this risk partly to modern Western eating habits, such as late dinners or skipping breakfast. These habits disrupt the daily cycle of food intake and fasting, which is essential for synchronizing the body’s peripheral clocks or circadian rhythms, impacting functions like blood pressure regulation.

Family Preparing Food in the Kitchen
The researchers suggest eating dinner earlier than 9 pm to reduce the risk of stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases. (Credit: Photo by August de Richelieu on Unsplash)

In a media release, the team says the results indicate that eating the first meal later in the day, such as when skipping breakfast, is tied to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. They also note a six-percent increase in risk for each hour of delay. For instance, a person eating their first meal at 9 a.m. is six percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than someone who eats at 8 a.m. This team included researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Inserm, and the Université Sorbonne Paris Nord.

The study of “chrononutrition” is becoming increasingly important in understanding how meal timing, circadian rhythms, and health are interconnected. The research team analyzed data from over 103,000 French individuals, predominantly women (79%) with an average age of 42, to examine the relationship between eating patterns and cardiovascular disease.

The results show that eating after 9 p.m. is associated with a 28-percent increased risk of cerebrovascular diseases like stroke, particularly in women, compared to eating before 8 p.m. Also, a longer duration of night-time fasting is linked to a reduced risk of cerebrovascular diseases, suggesting the benefits of having earlier meals in the day.

The team concludes that adopting earlier meal times and a longer night-time fasting period could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases but notes that further research is needed.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

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South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

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