Study: For Women, Too Many Evening Calories Especially Detrimental To Heart Health

NEW YORK — Who hasn’t indulged in the occasional late night snack? As the day winds down, and we all have a bit more free time, it’s common to experience the odd craving for something to munch on in the evening. While a nighttime snack every once in a while isn’t too bad, a new study finds that women should be careful not to consume too many calories in the evening, as such a practice has been linked to poorer heart health in females.

According to researchers from Columbia University, women who eat a higher portion of their daily calorie intake in the evening are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, for every 1% increase in evening calories, a woman’s chances of developing higher blood pressure and body mass index, as well as poorer long-term control of blood sugar levels, goes up.

It’s worth noting that the effect evening eating has on blood pressure appeared to be even more prevalent among Hispanic women, even after adjusting for age and socioeconomic status.

For the study, the cardiovascular health of 112 women was assessed. The participating women had a median age of 33, and 44% were Hispanic. Each woman was examined once at the beginning of the study, and then again one year later. The participants were assessed using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 measures, which consists of cardiovascular risk factors that an individual can try to improve on through lifestyle changes. Examples include quitting smoking, eating healthier foods, and keeping closer track of blood pressure levels.

Based off of this system, each woman had a heart health score calculated.

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Participants also kept electronic food diaries and reported their daily eating habits, (what they ate, how much of it, and when) for one week at the beginning of the study, and then again for one week at the end of the research. Using this information, researchers calculated the relationship between heart health and timing of calorie consumption.

“So far, lifestyle approaches to prevent heart disease have focused on what we eat and how much we eat,” says lead study author Nour Makarem, Ph.D., an associate research scientist at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, in a release. “These 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.”

Moving forward, researchers would like these findings to be confirmed among even larger and more diverse population samples.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019.

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