- Late night dinners have adverse effects on blood pressure and thus increase the risk of heart attack.
- Blood pressure is meant to fall by 10% overnight when the body rests.
- In people with high pressure, this drop in blood pressure is not observed and they are likely to suffer from non-dipper hypertension.
- Late night meals also affect the circadian rhythm by causing the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline.
One among four people suffer from high blood pressure. Blood pressure is meant to fall by 10% overnight. For about 40% of those with hypertension, blood pressure does not drop properly overnight which increases the risk of heart attacks. And people eating after 7 pm also do not experience that drop in blood pressure and they are twice as likely to suffer from non-dipper hypertension. Late night meals can have more of an impact on blood pressure than a diet high in salt content.
‘Healthy lifestyle changes include having a good and timely breakfast and lunch, with light dinners two hours before bedtime.’
AdvertisementIn a study conducted by Turkish University, cardiologists studied more than 700 people, both men and women with high blood pressure, to understand the impact of differences in the time of meals and consistency in their diet on their health. The researchers collected data on the type of food eaten, salt content in each meal, whether breakfast was taken and the time of evening meals.
The results that were revealed at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Rome, stated that when people eat is as important as what they eat. Almost 25% of those who ate dinner within two hours of going to bed did not experience their pressure falling sufficiently overnight, in comparison to 14.2% who ate earlier.
Modern lifestyle changes with hectic work schedule and long commutes, force people to take up erratic eating habits including late-night dinners.
Experts recommend on having early dinners allowing the body to wind down and rest. Also having a good breakfast and lunch and going light on dinner has beneficial effects on health.
Dr. Ebru Özpelit, associate professor of cardiology, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, who led the research said, "We must define the ideal frequency and timing of meals because how we eat may be as important as what we eat. Eating breakfast is important, we should have a strong breakfast, we shouldn't skip lunch. We must have a small dinner and it mustn't be later than 7 o'clock in the evening."
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said, "It is normal for blood pressure to reduce overnight, even in people with hypertension. However, in some hypertensives their blood pressure remains elevated throughout the night putting them at potentially higher risk of future complications. This research suggests that eating a meal late at night may contribute to the failure of their blood pressure to reduce. This observation, which needs to be confirmed in further, carefully designed studies, suggests that eating early in the evening may help people to gain better control of their blood pressure."
Researchers hope to confirm the results using larger study population.
Benefits of Eating Dinner Early
- Promotes good sleep
- Reduces gastrointestinal problems
- Prevents obesity
- Reduces stress levels
- Re-energizes the body