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Diabetics who eat less processed food at night may live longer

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Individuals with type 2 diabetes who eat less processed food at night may live longer than those who consume more processed foods, according to a new study.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, also suggest eating carbohydrate-rich foods earlier in the day as opposed to in the evening may boost cardiovascular health in people with type 2 diabetes.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 4,642 people with diabetes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2014 to determine their risk of dying from heart disease. Participants were followed for approximately two years, during which time 307 of them died from heart disease.

Results indicated people with diabetes who ate potatoes or starchy vegetables in the morning, whole grains in the afternoon, and dark vegetables such as greens and broccoli and milk in the evening had a 45% lower risk for death from heart disease compared to those who ate less of those foods. Those who ate a lot of processed meat in the evening had a 74% higher risk to die from heart disease.

“We observed that eating potatoes in the morning, whole grains in the afternoon, greens and milk in the evening and less processed meat in the evening was associated with better long-term survival in people with diabetes,” said Qingrao Song, M.D., of Harbin Medical University. “Nutritional guidelines and intervention strategies for diabetes should integrate the optimal consumption times for foods in the future.”

A 2020 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated consumption of highly processed foods could also be accelerating aging on a cellular level.

"Consumption of more than three servings per day of ultra-processed food almost doubles the risk of having short telomeres, a marker of biological aging at the cellular level,” said one of the study’s authors, Maira Bes-Rastrollo. “My recommendation is to decrease the consumption of ultra-processed food and promote the consumption of dietary patterns rich in fruit, vegetables and whole foods like the Mediterranean dietary pattern.”

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