Eating carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes and starchy vegetables early in the morning can help people with diabetes reduce their risk of dying from heart disease, according to a study. The study, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, was conducted by researchers at Harbin Medical University in China.
The researchers wanted to examine whether the timing of the three meals was related to the life expectancy of people with diabetes. To find out, they analysed data from 4,642 diabetes patients who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Survey between 2003 and 2014. The dietary habits of the participants, determined using 24-hour questionnaires, were compared with the incidence of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality over time.
The study data showed that participants who ate carbohydrate-rich vegetables such as potatoes earlier in the day (at breakfast) were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Similar results were observed in participants who ate whole grains in the afternoon (lunch) and dark leafy vegetables in the evening (dinner).
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Conversely, eating a lot of processed meat in the evening was associated with an increased risk of dying from heart disease, the data show.
The findings suggest that nutrient timing could help diabetic patients adjust their meals to the natural biological rhythm of insulin sensitivity to improve their life expectancy.
Dr Qingrao Son, co-author of the study and a researcher at Harbin Medical University, suggested that dietary guidelines and intervention strategies for diabetes should take into account optimal food intake times.
Link between diabetes and heart disease
People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing heart disease than people without diabetes. This is because high blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. Over time, this can lead to heart disease. In addition, patients with diabetes are more likely to have certain risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the US National Institutes of Health.
According to the NIDDK, adults with diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease as adults without diabetes.
People with diabetes can protect their hearts by controlling their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Treat your diabetes to reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke, advises the NIDDK.
If you smoke, stop. Smoking can also increase the risk of heart disease and stroke in people with diabetes. This is because both smoking and diabetes narrow the blood vessels. In addition, smoking can increase the risk of developing other long-term problems, such as lung disease.
People with diabetes should also check their blood pressure regularly. High blood pressure can put a strain on the heart, damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, as well as eye or kidney problems.
The NIDDK also recommends that people with diabetes limit the amount of fat they eat, eat more plant-based foods and exercise regularly to improve their cholesterol levels.
High levels of LDL, often called ‘bad’ cholesterol, can clog blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease. Conversely, higher levels of HDL, also known as ‘good’ cholesterol, are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.