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It’s no secret that diet plays a huge role in your heart health…
Food is what turned around my hypertension when the doctors couldn’t.
So eating foods like fatty fish, berries and nuts, for example, keep your heart healthy and strong. Sweets, refined carbs and processed meats, on the other hand, take a major toll on your ticker.
But when it comes to maintaining a healthy heart, it’s not just about what you eat, it’s about when you eat it…
Strangely enough, mounting evidence suggests poor meal timing could sabotage your heart health just as much as poor food choices.
That means your challenge — if you choose to accept it — is to learn how to optimize your daily meals and snacks for a healthy heart…
Now is the time for a healthy heart
If you’re like most people you probably haven’t given much thought to when you eat your meals and snacks. You eat when you’re hungry or follow what you’ve been taught traditionally… breakfast by 9am, lunch around noon and supper at 6pm.
And you figure, as long as you choose healthy food that should be enough, right?
Well, the latest information published by the American Heart Association suggests that if you want to prevent heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases you may need to take your dietary planning to the next level…
That means that now, in addition to making a carefully-planned grocery list that includes heart-healthy foods like whole-grains, nuts, fish and vegetables, you also need to consider:
- How many meals you’re eating (Are you eating three well-balanced meals every day? Or are you a notorious breakfast or lunch-skipper?)
- What time of day you tend to eat (Are you and early-bird eater or a late-night snacker?)
- Whether you eat at the same times every day like clockwork…or whether your eating patterns are sporadic, at best.
- Whether you’re a fan of fasting… or not so much.
These easily overlooked factors have a surprising impact on your heart and overall health. Skipping breakfast, for example, is a major heart-health no-no…
Apparently people who eat breakfast daily have lower blood pressure and cholesterol. People who don’t eat breakfast, on the other hand, are more likely to be obese, have worse glucose metabolism and to develop diabetes — all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Research also shows that eating meals or snacks close to bedtime leads to weight gain… even if you skipped meals earlier in the day.
In fact, there is a school of thought (and research) that says eating all your meals by 2 p.m. (which I know sounds extreme) can give your metabolism a major boost. According to researchers, the benefits of earlier eating are due to the fact that your body has more time to metabolize your food.
The American Heart Association’s statement also mentioned that sticking to a regular eating schedule is better for your heart health than a fly-by-night approach to eating, and that intermittent fasting (one to two times per week) can help with weight loss and potentially prevent obesity — another major risk factor for heart disease. Fasting has also been shown to lower blood triglycerides, blood sugar and insulin resistance. And occasional fasting can even improve your immunity and help you live longer.
Timing your meals for optimum heart health
I know the AHA’s dietary guidelines are a lot to digest, so here’s a quick breakdown of the basic food timing rules you need to follow to keep your heart running smoothly for years to come:
- Always eat a healthy breakfast. My new favorite is overnight chia breakfast pudding.
- Eat three meals a day before 7 p.m. (or 2 p.m. if you’re really committed to the cause)
- Try to eat your meals around the same time every day.
- Give fasting a try. It may sound extreme, but there are different methods of fasting out there… maybe one would work for you. Check out Craig Cooper’s advice on intermittent fasting to find out.
“Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association.” Circulation, 2017; 135(5).
“Meal planning, timing, may impact heart health.” MedicalXpress. https://medicalxpress.com. Retrieved January 31, 2017.