Diabetes Patients Who Eat Starchy Vegetables Earlier in the Day May Live Longer

Once a person receives a diabetes diagnosis, diet becomes extremely important. Without tweaks and closely monitoring which foods are eaten, managing the disease can be difficult. A new study has found paying attention to the time you eat certain foods can be key for good health, as well.

Researchers from Harbin Medical University in China examined the link between the diets of diabetes patients and heart disease risk. The study, published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that eating potatoes and other carb-heavy veggies in the morning led to a lower risk of dying of heart disease. There were ideal times to eat other types of foods, as well.

PHOTO: ADOBE STOCK / Татьяна Медведцкая

Study co-author Dr. Qingrao Song says, “We observed that eating potatoes in the morning, whole grains in the afternoon, greens and milk in the evening and less processed meat in the evening was associated with better long-term survival in people with diabetes.”

The team came to this conclusion with data from more than 4,600 diabetes patients from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a program from the National Center for Health Statistics that examines the health and nutritional status of American adults and children. They looked specifically at what participants ate in the morning, afternoon, and evening.


They found that compared with those who ate the smallest amount of potatoes and starchy vegetables in the morning, those who ate the most had a lower risk of death by cardiovascular disease (CVD). In the afternoon, people who largely ate whole grains were more protected, while those who ate primarily dark vegetables and milk at night had the most protective benefit, from both death by CVD and all other causes. In contrast, those who ate the highest amount of processed meats in the evening saw the opposite impact.

Dr. Song says these findings could lead to more helpful nutrition guidance for patients, explaining, “Nutritional guidelines and intervention strategies for diabetes should integrate the optimal consumption times for foods in the future.”

What are some healthy non-starchy dark vegetables? You can choose from foods like broccoli, spinach, and Swiss chard. If you can get them fresh, that’s a good approach. However, the American Diabetes Association says that if you purchase them frozen or from a can, choose those without added salt.

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