IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

To keep weight off and your heart healthy, don't pig out at night, heart doctors say

“Your meal timing matters and eating earlier in the day may be an important strategy to help lower the risk for heart disease.”

Eating a big dinner at night can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes, the American Heart Association said Monday.

Anything people eat after 6 p.m. might not necessarily pack on the pounds, but the extra calories cause other bad health effects such as higher blood sugar and higher blood pressure, researchers said in a summary of work to be presented at the Heart Association’s meeting later this month.

Other research being presented offers some strategies for losing weight, including stepping on the scales every day and eating more nuts.

If you're looking for more diet and fitness advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter.

A team at Columbia University Medical Center in New York analyzed interviews of nearly 13,000 people taking part in a national study of the health of Latinos and Hispanics who answered questions about lifestyle and got medical exams at the same time.

The more they ate after 6 p.m., the higher their blood sugar levels, the team found. People who said they ate about a third or more of their calories at night had a 23 percent higher risk of high blood pressure.

“In our study we show that if you eat most of your calories before 6 p.m., you may have better cardiovascular health,” said Columbia’s Nour Makarem, who worked on the study. “Your meal timing matters and eating earlier in the day may be an important strategy to help lower the risk for heart disease.”

Other teams have advice for keeping the weight off, and thus lowering the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

1. Should I weigh myself every day?

A study of more than 1,000 people found that people who never weighed themselves or who stepped on the scale just once a week did not lose weight in the following year. Those who did weigh themselves daily lost an average of close to 2 percent of body weight over the next year.

The team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing didn’t just take people’s word for it. They used data from scales that transmitted daily reports of whether people were stepping on them.

2. Eat more nuts for weight loss

A third study adds to the growing body of evidence that nuts are not only nutritious, but can help people lose weight.

A team at the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating nuts, including peanuts, helps people keep the weight off and also improved blood sugar levels.

“People often see nuts as food items high in fat and calories, so they hesitate to consider them as healthy snacks, but they are in fact associated with less weight gain and wellness,” said Xiaoran Liu, a researchers who worked on the study.

“Adding 1 ounce of nuts to your diet in place of less healthy foods — such as red or processed meat, French fries or sugary snacks — may help prevent that slow, gradual weight gain after you enter adulthood and reduce the risk of obesity-related cardiovascular diseases.”