About 18 million people die each year as a result of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and congestive heart failure. That number could be significantly lower if people would cut meat out of their dinner meals. A new study found that people who eat a plant-based dinner reduce their risk of heart disease by 10 percent.
The study, from Harbin Medical University in China, found that people who eat more than the recommended amount of refined carbs and fatty meats for dinner have a higher risk of heart disease than those who eat a similar diet for breakfast.
Previous research has already shown that eating lots of saturated fats, processed meats (such as bacon, burgers, and chicken nuggets), as well as added sugars (found in most processed foods) can raise a person’s risk of suffering from heart disease. Meanwhile, a diet focused on vegetables and whole grains can significantly offset that risk.
Now, the scientists behind the new study suggest that the timing of meals is also key to preventing heart disease. “Meal timing along with food quality are important factors to consider when looking for ways to lower your risk of heart disease,” said study author Ying Li, in a statement.
“It’s always recommended to eat a healthy diet, especially for those at high risk for heart disease, but we found that eating meat and refined carbs for breakfast instead of dinner was associated with a lower risk,” added Li.
As part of the study, the researchers looked at the diets of more than 27,000 American adults, analyzing dietary information collected during interviews with the participants over two non-consecutive days. In particular, the team examined the link between eating different fats, carbohydrates, and proteins at breakfast or dinner with participants’ rates of heart disease.
The findings showed that eating a plant-based dinner with more whole carbs and unsaturated fats reduced heart disease risk by 10 percent.
Original study: Endocrine Society — Meal Timing of Subtypes of Macronutrients Consumption With Cardiovascular Diseases
Additional resources: National Institutes of Health — Saturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease