Smaller Frequent Meals Prevent Elevated Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure

smaller-mealsPeople who eat smaller, more frequent meals have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and healthier blood sugar than people who eat fewer, larger meals, according to a study conducted by researchers from the US Agricultural Research Service Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Centr and the National Institute on Ageing Intramural Research Program.

Researchers had a small group of volunteers consume either one meal per day or three meals per day for eight weeks, then had them switch to the other diet for another eight weeks.

The total calories consumed per day were the same in the one-meal and the three-meal groups.

When eating only one high-calorie meal per day, participants lost small amounts of weight and body mass. At the same time, however, they underwent significant increases in both total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

They had higher morning fasting and all-day blood sugar levels, longer-lasting blood sugar increases after eating, and a delayed response to the sugar-regulating hormone insulin. All of these blood sugar disruptions can be considered precursors to diabetes.

The new research follows a 2005 study showing that eating larger portion sizes does not correspond to feeling more full. Researchers from the Penn State University Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behaviour found that over time, people who were served larger portions ended up eating more food, rather than less.

“Living in the age of supersize meals and ‘huge food,’ our study shows that there is a great need for people to be more aware of what and how much food they are served,” said laboratory director Barbara Rolls.

In response to growing concern over the health effects of the large portion sizes that have become increasingly popular in recent decades, particularly in the United States, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has called on its members to implement standardized portion sizes for all their packaged foods.

Dr. Hooper’s Comment

Eating too much too late is a common nutritional mistake I see every day.

And who are the worst offenders: Male Tradies!

Not a week goes past without consulting with a male tradesman who suffers continuing lethargy, weight gain, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. And when you check what they eat, there are absolutely no mysteries as to why.

They get up early so there is no time for breakfast. Maybe a coffee or a piece of toast.

Lunch if they are lucky. Usually from the local fast food outlet.

Coca cola or coffee in the afternoon because they ‘need a lift’.

Huge meal at night because they are starving.

No water. No Protein. Refined carbohydrate. Coffee based beverages. Tired in the afternoons. Trouble sleeping at night.

No plan is a plan to fail. If you do not plan your meals you will end up making dietary mistakes.

I have written about this extensively in Health Promoting Nutrition, under the Wellness Protocol.

Make sure you try to eat regular small meals throughout the day, and take the time to ensure that these meals are healthy and satisfying. It is one of the easiest ways to reduce your cholesterol and balance your blood pressure.

And for the ‘tradies’ it is a good way to avoid an injury. Low blood sugar levels, lack of protein and poor concentration are not a good combination when using power tools.