If you love stacking your dinner plate full of meat and bread at the end of the long day, it may be time to take a second look at your approach. New research suggests that a plant-based dinner may be the way to go when it comes to protecting your cardiovascular system from heart disease and related issues in the long run.
Scientists published a new study in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, where they gathered data from roughly 28,000 participants who took the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). More specifically, they looked at people’s dietary habits and what they ate during breakfast and dinner during the day to see if there was any connection between those food choices and their heart health.
What they discovered is that folks who ate a plant-based dinner — as in, one free of animal protein and carbs from refined foods — generally lowered their risk of heart disease by around 10 percent without changing anything else about their daily eating habits or food preferences. Interestingly, however, researchers didn’t see the same drop in heart disease risk for people who ate a plant-based breakfast instead of a plant-based dinner.
Why is that? They’re still piecing together exactly which mechanisms are responsible for that change, but the current hypothesis is that the body’s metabolic and chemical processes function more effectively earlier in the day when you’re feeling fresher than later at night when you need to rest, helping you break down compounds like fats and carbs more easily.
In other words, there’s some good news for breakfast lovers who enjoy bacon and pancakes first thing in the morning: Your heart is handling both just fine! But in the meantime, scientists say to still get in plenty of veggies and whole grains while eating fewer animal proteins at dinner. Doing so is proven to lead to improved heart health.