Eating This Between Meals Can Take Years Off Your Life, New Study Says

Research shows you should avoid the temptation to snack on this throughout the day.

Let's be honest: even though it might be easier to plan out healthy and nutritious meals, snacking usually comes down to whatever you happen to have on hand. But if you're absent-mindedly reaching for whatever is in the pantry to ease your hunger pangs, there might be some foods you'll want to avoid for the sake of your health. That's because a new study has found that eating one type of food in particular between meals can actually take years off your life. Read on to see what popular product you shouldn't be sneaking in during the day.

RELATED: Eating This Dessert Every Day Slashes Heart Disease Risk, Study Shows.

Read the original article on Best Life.

Snacking on starchy foods like potato chips can increase your risk of early death.

Potato chips

The new research comes from a new study conducted by Harbin Medical University in China that was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, which analyzed the data from 21,503 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 to 2014 in the U.S. by looking at dietary patterns at each meal throughout the day. Members of the group were at least 30 years old at the beginning of the study and were nearly evenly split at 51 percent female. Researchers then used the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Death Index to cross-reference participants who died through the end of 2015 due to heart disease, cancer, or any other cause.

"People are increasingly concerned about what they eat as well as when they eat," Ying Li, PhD, lead study author and professor in the department of nutrition and food hygiene at Harbin Medical University School of Public Health, said in a press release. "Our team sought to better understand the effects different foods have when consumed at certain meals."

Participants were broken down into different groups based on what they typically ate as snacks throughout the day, categorizing them as grain snacks, starchy snacks, fruit snacks, and dairy snacks. The results found that participants snacking on starchy foods such as potato chips between any meals was associated with a 50 to 52 percent increase in the risk of death by any cause, as well as a 44 to 57 percent increased risk of death related to cardiovascular disease.

What you eat for lunch can also have a major impact on your health.

A young woman eating a bowl of yogurt in the kicthen

Besides finding that it might be best to avoid snacking on starchy items like chips in-between meals, the study also turned up some other valuable information about the healthiest decisions when it came to mealtime. The research team took a similar breakdown to midday meals, categorizing participants as eating a Western lunch, a vegetable-based lunch, or a fruit-based lunch.

Results showed that participants who ate a Western lunch—which mainly consisted of refined grain, solid fats, cheese, added sugars, and cured meat—saw a 44 percent increase in the risk of death by heart disease. On the other hand, members of the group who ate a fruit-based lunch consisting mostly of whole grain, fruits, yogurt, and nuts saw a 34 percent decrease in the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.

RELATED: If You Drink This Every Day, Your Heart Could Be in Danger, Study Finds.

The study also found health benefits to eating a plant-based dinner.

Older man eating dinner

The study showed similar results when it came down to evening meals, separating participants into groups that ate a Western dinner, vegetable dinner, or fruit dinner. Results found that eating a vegetable-based dinner was associated with a 23 percent reduction in heart disease-related death and a 31 percent reduction in death by any cause.

According to researchers, the vegetable-based dinner group was defined as having consumed the most servings of dark vegetables, red and orange vegetables, tomatoes, other vegetables, and legumes for supper.

Researchers concluded that when you eat can be as important to your health as what you eat.

young couple sitting on a table and having breakfast together

The researchers pointed out that since meals were self-reported by participants, there were some limitations to their findings. But they ultimately concluded their results might help make the argument that healthy eating might involve choosing when to eat foods as much as it involves choosing which foods to eat.

"Our results revealed that the amount and the intake time of various types of foods are equally critical for maintaining optimal health," said Li. "Future nutrition guidelines and interventional strategies could integrate optimal consumption times for foods across the day."

RELATED: Eating This Nut Once a Week Slashes Your Heart Disease Risk, Study Says.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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