Habitually eating a late dinner can triple your risk of a deadly heart attack if you have high blood pressure, a new study finds.1
Normally, your blood pressure goes down by about 10% at night. But eating within two hours of bedtime releases a rush of stress hormones that stops your blood pressure from dropping.2 It keeps your body on “high alert” and maintains your blood pressure at daytime levels when you are sleeping. This puts you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke, the study shows.
Researchers tracked 721 people with an average age of 53 and high blood pressure. People accustomed to eating within two hours of going to bed were 2.8 times more likely to retain high blood pressure overnight. These subjects were found to be three times more likely to die from heart-related illness.
Dr. Ebru Ozpelit led the study. She is associate professor of cardiology at Dokuz Elul University in Turkey. “If blood pressure doesn’t drop by more than 10% (at night), this increases cardiovascular risk,” she said. “These patients have more heart attacks, strokes, and chronic disease.”
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About 29% of Americans have high blood pressure.3 But Dr. Ozpelit says late eating likely increases heart risk even for people without hypertension. Whether you have blood pressure issues or not, she recommends never eating within two hours of bedtime—and ideally nothing after 7 p.m.4
The Dangers of Eating Late
The new study is only the latest to link late-day eating to health problems:
- Breast cancer. Researchers at the University of California San Diego followed more than 2,400 early-stage breast cancer survivors. They found that an overnight fast of less than 13 hours was linked to a 36% higher risk of breast cancer returning. Those patients had a 21% higher death risk compared to those fasting longer than 13 hours per night. The study was published in JAMA Oncology.5
- Type 2 diabetes. The same researchers found that habitual late-night eating causes higher blood sugar levels during sleeping hours. They believe this leads to type 2 diabetes.6
- Poor sleep. Researchers found that those who eat before bedtime sleep less soundly than those who don’t. Subjects who increased their nighttime fast by two hours were able to sleep 20% longer.7
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In Good Health,
Executive Director, INH Health Watch