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Beware of the Night Munchies — They Increase Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes


A study published in Experimental Psychology has found that eating at night causes levels of blood fats called triglycerides to spike dramatically. As high blood fat levels are linked to heart disease and diabetes, it’s best to avoid eating in the evening hours.

In the experiment, scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico measured triglyceride levels in rats after feeding them at the beginning of their rest cycle, as well as after feeding them at the beginning of their active cycle. Their blood fats increased much more following a meal eaten in the rest cycle. After the research team removed the part of the rats’ brains that regulates their internal 24-hour clock, no difference was noted in the rise of triglycerides that follow a meal.

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Researchers Warn Against Ignoring Biological Clock

People also have a 24-hour biological clock referred to as your circadian clock. Those who have a habit of eating in the nighttime hours ignore signals of this internal regulating mechanism. This results in high post-meal triglyceride levels, which are a significant factor in the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, a problem with implications in cardiovascular disease. High triglycerides also indicate the presence of a condition known as insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

“The fact that we can ignore our biological clock is important for survival; we can decide to sleep during the day when we are extremely tired or we run away from danger at night,” said author Ruud Buijs. “However, doing this frequently — with shift work, jet lag, or staying up late at night — will harm our health in the long-term especially when we eat at times when we should sleep.”

Time of the Day When Food is Eaten is More Important Than Calories Consumed

When we snack at night, we are likely driven more by pleasure than by hunger. One of the negative health consequences is an elevated likelihood of obesity. While the effects may be due in part to the nutritionally devoid food that seems to tempt people in the evening, they may also stem from the circadian clock functions, which try to tell us when to eat, sleep and be active.

The new study comes on the heels of another study conducted earlier this year, which reinforced the concept that the time of the day in which food is consumed plays a larger role in weight loss efforts than the quantity of calories consumed. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center fed a group of mice a calorie-restricted diet during their active cycle and another group of mice the same diet during their rest cycle. Only the mice that were fed during their activity cycle lost weight.

“Translated into human behavior, these studies suggest that dieting will only be effective if calories are consumed during the daytime when we are awake and active. They further suggest that eating at the wrong time at night will not lead to weight loss even when dieting,” said Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi, Chairman of Neuroscience at UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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