For the study, the research team assessed the cardiovascular health of 112 women using the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 measures at the beginning of the study and one year later.
‘Women who consume a higher proportion of their daily calories late in the evening are more likely to be at risk of developing cardiovascular disease than women who do not.’
Life's Simple 7 represents the risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to help achieve ideal cardiovascular health and include not smoking, being physically active, eating healthy foods and controlling body weight, along with measuring cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
A heart health score based on meeting the Life's Simple 7 was computed.
"The preliminary results indicate that intentional eating that is mindful of the timing and proportion of calories in evening meals may represent a simple, modifiable behavior that can help lower heart disease risk," said study lead author Nour Makarem from Columbia University in the US.
During the study, participants of the study kept electronic food diaries by computer or cell phone to report what, how much and when they ate for one week at the beginning of the study and for one week 12 months later.
Data from the food diary completed by each woman was used to determine the relationship between heart health and the timing of when they ate.
Researchers found that, after 6 p.m. with every one per cent calories consumed heart health declined, especially for women.
These women were found more likely to have higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and poorer long-term control of blood sugar.
Similar findings occurred with every one per cent increase in calories consumed after 8 p.m.
"It is never too early to start thinking about your heart health whether you're 20 or 30 or 40 or moving into the 60s and 70s. If you're healthy now or if you have heart disease, you can always do more. That goes along with being heart smart and heart healthy," said study researcher Kristin Newby, Professor at Duke University.
The study is scheduled to be presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2019 from November 16-18 in Philadelphia, US.