Shifting calorie and fat intake from night to earlier times in the day was associated with reductions in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, according to findings published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.
“The timing of eating and nutrient intake and its effect on cardiovascular health has drawn attention in nutrition research,” Hsin-Jen Chen, MS, PhD, associate professor in the Institute of Public Health at the National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan, and colleagues wrote. “Meal frequency, timing of feeding and regularity of meal times are associated with obesity, blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risks. Elevated blood LDL cholesterol, as an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, has been associated with temporal patterns of eating as well.”
“It is unknown whether the association between energy intake at a later time of day and the risk of dyslipidemia has been randomly observed,” they added.
Chen and colleagues analyzed data from the Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan to determine the effect of macronutrient intake at different times of the day on blood lipid levels. A total of 1,283 nonpregnant healthy adults aged 19 years and older completed the survey which included a 24-hour dietary recall of their food intake and meal times.
Shifting calorie and fat intake from night to earlier times in the day was associated with reductions in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
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Meal times were categorized into six time periods, including three periods for main meals eaten in the morning (5 a.m. to 9:29 a.m.), at noon (11:30 a.m. to 1:29 p.m.) and in the evening (5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.), as well as three periods for snacking in mid-morning (9:30 a.m. to 11:29 a.m.), afternoon (1:30 p.m. to 5:29 p.m.) and night (8:30 p.m. to 4:59 a.m.). For each time period, total calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats were calculated.
Participants underwent a physical examination 1 to 3 weeks after completing the survey. During the visit, fasting plasma triglycerides, total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol were examined using the Hitachi Model 747 Automatic Analyzer (Bellport, N.Y.) and LDL cholesterol was determined using the Friedewald formula.
Participants had an average energy intake of 385 kcal (95% CI, 353-416) for the morning, 123 kcal (95% CI, 106-140) for the mid-morning, 522 kcal (95% CI, 483-561) for noon, 171 kcal (95% CI, 141-200) for the afternoon, 557 kcal (95% CI, 516-597) for the evening and 169 kcal (95% CI, 139-200) for nighttime.
Data suggested that participants who consumed 100 kcal more at night had a 0.94 mg/dL (95% CI, 0.27-1.61) increase in LDL cholesterol. Additionally, consuming an additional 100 kcal of fat at night increased LDL cholesterol by 2.98 mg/dL (95% CI, 0.89-5.07).
Eating 100 kcal in the morning or at noon rather than at night lowered LDL cholesterol by 1.46 (95% CI, 2.42-0.5) and 1.27 mg/dL (95% CI, 2.24-0.3), respectively. Similarly, shifting 100 kcal of fat intake at night to noon or evening significantly lowered LDL cholesterol by 5.21 mg/dL (95% CI, 7.42-2.99) and 3.19 mg/dL (95% CI, 6.29-0.08), respectively.
“These temporal patterns of cholesterol-related metabolism indicate that healthy people’s cholesterol metabolic systems tend to produce cholesterol at night, which builds up total cholesterol levels,” Chen and colleagues concluded. “When the exogenous input via food intake is shifted to a later time, the food, especially fats, provides precursors for the machinery when it is most efficient and elevates the cholesterol pool.” – by Alaina Tedesco
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.