In a new study from at Harbin Medical University, researchers found eating starchy snacks high in white potato or other starches after any meal was associated at least a 44-57% increased risk of heart-related death.
Conversely, eating fruits, vegetables or dairy at specific meals is linked to a reduced risk of death from heart disease, cancer or any cause.
In the study, the team analyzed the results of 21,503 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 to 2014 in the U.S.
Researchers categorized participants’ dietary patterns by analyzing what types of food they ate at different meals.
For the main meals, three main dietary patterns were identified for the morning meal: Western breakfast, starchy breakfast and fruit breakfast.
Western lunch, vegetable lunch and fruit lunch were identified as the main dietary patterns for the mid-day meal. Western dinner, vegetable dinner and fruit dinner were identified as the main dietary patterns for the evening meal.
For snacks, grain snacks, starchy snacks, fruit snacks and dairy snacks were identified as the main snack patterns in between meals.
The researchers noted that the Western dietary pattern has higher proportions of fat and protein, which is similar to many North American meals.
The team found participants in the Western lunch group consumed the most servings of refined grain, solid fats, cheese, added sugars and cured meat.
Participants in the fruit-based lunch group consumed the most servings of whole grain, fruits, yogurt and nuts.
Participants in the vegetable-based dinner group consumed the most servings of dark vegetables, red and orange vegetables, tomatoes, other vegetables and legumes.
Participants who consumed starchy snacks consumed the most servings of white potatoes.
According to their findings, eating a Western lunch (typically containing refined grains, cheese, cured meat) was associated with a 44% increased risk of CVD death;
Eating a fruit-based lunch was associated with a 34% reduced risk of CVD death;
Eating a vegetable-based dinner was associated with a 23% and 31% reduction in CVD and all-cause mortality, respectively; and
Consuming a snack high in starch after any meal was associated with a 50-52% increased risk of all-cause mortality and a 44-57% increased risk of CVD-related mortality.
These results showed that the amount and the intake time of various types of foods are equally critical for maintaining optimal health.
The team says future nutrition guidelines and interventional strategies could integrate optimal consumption times for foods across the day.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. One author of the study is Ying Li, Ph.D.