It’s no secret that certain foods aren’t as beneficial as others when it comes to our health, and particularly our heart health. However, what may come as a surprise is when we eat those not-so-healthful foods may be an important factor, too. In a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found eating animal protein and low-quality carbs at dinner could lead to worse health outcomes than at breakfast.
Studying the effects of our dinner plate.
Researchers wanted to understand how what we eat for dinner can affect heart health. They looked at data from nearly 28,000 U.S. adults who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Participants reported their dietary habits, including what they ate for breakfast and dinner. The team then looked for associations between heart disease and certain fats, carbs, and proteins, as well as when they were eating them.
When it came to a lower heart disease risk, they saw an association with plant-based dinners—a 10% lower risk, to be exact. And those plant-based dinners were specifically those with more whole carbs and unsaturated fats. As study author Ying Li explains in a news release, “Meal timing along with food quality are important factors to consider when looking for ways to lower your risk of heart disease.”
“It’s always recommended to eat a healthy diet, especially for those at high risk for heart disease,” he adds, “but we found that eating meat and refined carbs for breakfast instead of dinner was associated with a lower risk.”
If you’re looking for a simple way to lower your heart disease risk, you can start by simply switching up your dinners. If you still want to eat a meal with meat or refined carbs on occasion, this research suggests you might be better off opting for it in the morning instead of during dinner.
For plant-based inspiration, give this delicious and veggie-packed falafel bowl a try, or even this vegan ground “beef.” And be sure to check out our top five tips for taking your plant-based cooking to the next level.