People with Diabetes Who Eat Less Processed Food at Night May Live Longer

Study finds eating carbs earlier in the day is linked to better heart health.

The time of day that people with diabetes eat certain foods may be just as important to their well-being as portion size and calories, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Mealtimes should be in line with the biological clock — a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle and repeats every 24 hours. Health outcomes for people with diabetes may be improved if certain foods are eaten at different times of the day.

“We observed that eating potatoes in the morning, whole grains in the afternoon, greens and milk in the evening and less processed meat in the evening was associated with better long-term survival in people with diabetes,” says Qingrao Song, MD, of Harbin Medical University in Harbin, China. “Nutritional guidelines and intervention strategies for diabetes should integrate the optimal consumption times for foods in the future.”

The researchers analyzed data from 4,642 people with diabetes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to determine their risk of dying from heart disease. They found people with diabetes who ate potatoes or starchy vegetables in the morning, whole grains in the afternoon, and dark vegetables such as greens and broccoli and milk in the evening were less likely to die from heart disease. Those who ate a lot of processed meat in the evening were more likely to die from heart disease.

Other authors of this study include: Wenbo Jiang, Jia Zhang, Yunyan Chen, Hongyan Jiang, Yujia Long, Ying Li, Tianshu Han, Hongru Sun and Wei Wei of Harbin Medical University.

The study received funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

The manuscript, “The Association of Consumption Time for Food with Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality Among Diabetes Patients,” was published online, ahead of print.


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