Regular eating of as many as six meals per day could reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, according to new research.
We’re used to three meals per day at regular intervals, but a new study suggested that eating as many as six meals per day could be better for heart health, even if it means increased calorie intake.
Experts believe this could be due to the fact that the body finds it easier to metabolise small amounts of food regularly, rather than larger meals less frequently.
The research, conducted by Johns Hopkins University and Baltimore University, involved more than 7,000 participants, monitoring them over a 14-year period.
During the study period 1280 subjects died, 503 of them from cardiovascular disease.
Researchers found that participants who sat down to eat at least six times per day had a 30% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Crucially, the authors found the dangers to heart health appear to subside even if the overall daily intake exceeds recommended levels of 2,500 calories for men and 2,000 for women.
“Eating frequency was inversely associated with cardiovascular disease mortality, which was especially marked for people reporting high total energy intake,” the report read.
“Nevertheless, public health recommendations should be cautious, as eating frequency was positively associated with total energy intake, which could promote weight gain.”
Experts have warned that, if eating six meals per day, these meals should be nutritionally balanced.
Dietitian Tracy Parker, from the British Heart Foundation, said, according to Mail Online: “Following a healthy diet, by eating regular and balanced meals that are rich in fruits and vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and fish, can help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease.”
The study was published in the Annals of Epidemiology.