The timing of your meals may prove to be as crucial as what you actually eat, with Columbia scientists analyzing previous data on the matter to create its latest statement.

Planning when to consume meals and snacks — as well not skipping breakfast — are linked to healthier diets that could reduce the risk of disease, including heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular conditions, according to the new statement.

Building A Case For Breakfast

“In animal studies, it appears that when animals receive food while in an inactive phase, such as when they are sleeping, their internal clocks are reset in a way that can alter nutrient metabolism, resulting in increased weight gain, insulin resistance, and inflammation,” said author and Columbia professor Marie-Pierre St-Onge in a statement.

The author added, however, that further evidence is needed to be conducted in humans to confirm it as a fact.

Apart from promoting breakfast, the statement emphasized the importance of eating a healthy diet with a focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish, as well as poultry. It also recommended limiting intake of red meat, salt, and high-sugar foods, but added that the timing and frequency of meals may affect heart health.

Timing and frequency of meals have been associated with risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as obesity, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. There could also be decreased insulin sensitivity, according to studies.

The statement also cited breakfast consumption with lower risk of heart disease. Daily breakfast eaters found to be less likely to be hypertensive or have high cholesterol, and skippers — around 20 to 30 percent of adults in the United States — are more likely to be nutrient-deficient, obese, or be diagnosed with diabetes, St-Onge added.

Mindful Eating

The researchers recommended eating mindfully and paying close attention to contents and timing of meals to fight emotional eating. Emotions can incite eating episodes even when one isn’t hungry, often leading to excess calories from low-nutrient foods, they explained.

Occasional fasting, or doing a fast every other day or up to twice a week, has also been tied to short-term weight loss.

Medical correspondent Max Gomez of CBS2 echoed part of the recommendations, particularly what we eat affecting our heart. He also urged the intake of less salt, trans fat, and saturated fat, along with more veggies, fruits, and omega-3 fats.

The British Heart Foundation’s dietitian Victoria Taylor also welcomed the advice, stressing the need to pay more attention to one’s dietary choices and lifestyle. One should take a few minutes to plan ahead before going food shopping in order to ensure regular meal schedules and nutritious choices.

Some experts, however, warned against the potentially biased weight-loss advice slapped on popular breakfast staples such as cereals.

Investigating the idea of breakfast as a way to lose weight, Vanderbilt University researchers reviewed dozens of studies examining the said premise and concluded that popular opinion actually outweighed scientific proof. They noted that studies usually used language for indicating breakfast as a weight influence, despite findings not establishing a cause and effect.

Dietary advice is also deemed colored when the research is partly funded by cereal makers themselves, the researchers warned.

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