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Why Scientists Say You Shouldn’t Eat Dinner After 7 PM

A study by cardiologists at Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey found that eating dinner within two hours of going to bed could increase the risk of heart attacks.
Photo via Flickr user Lachlan Hardy

Hometime at the office seems to be getting later each day. By the time you've finished off those emails, caught the late bus home, and done a cornershop dash for a hasty midweek spag bol, the sun has long gone down.

But don't get too comfortable in your after dark dining habits. A new study from cardiologists at Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey has found that eating later on in the evening could increase your risk of suffering a heart attack.


There goes the joy of a midnight feast.

The research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Rome last week, claims that "having dinner within two hours of bedtime did more damage than the long-established risk of having a high salt diet." To reduce the risk of heart disease, it recommended that people should eat a small dinner no later than 7 PM.

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Researchers came to these conclusions by analysing the diets and meal times of more than 700 adults who already suffer from high blood pressure. They found that in 24.2 percent of cases in which participants ate dinner within two hours of going to bed, blood pressure failed to drop properly overnight (a condition known as non-dipper hypertension, which increases the risk of heart attacks), compared to the 14.2 percent who ate dinner earlier.

With high blood pressure becoming more of a problem in the UK, linked partly to our growing obesity crisis, it's hard to ignore the study's findings. According to the British Heart Foundation, around 30 percent of UK adults suffer from high blood pressure, with another seven million cases estimated to be undiagnosed in the UK.

In a press statement to MUNCHIES, Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, agreed with the Turkish study that "in some hypertensives their blood pressure remains elevated throughout the night putting them at potentially higher risk of future complications."

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He added, however, that further research was needed: "This observation, which needs to be confirmed in further, carefully designed studies, suggests that eating early in the evening may help people to gain better control of their blood pressure."

Still, it's a good enough excuse to tell the boss you need to leave early.