The dangers of eating late at night

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Eating late at night is putting millions of people in danger of heart attacks and strokes, experts warn.

A late-night meal keeps the body on 'high alert' when it should be winding down, researchers found.

Heart experts last night advised that adults should never eat within two hours of bedtime - and ideally nothing after 7pm.

In a healthy person, blood pressure drops by at least 10 per cent when they go to sleep.

But the results of a study of more than 700 people with high blood pressure found that eating within two hours of bedtime meant their levels stayed high.

Experts think this is because eating releases a rush of stress hormones when the body should be starting to relax.

People who do not see their blood pressure fall at night are known as 'non-dippers' - and have a much higher rate of heart-related death.

Late eaters were nearly three times more likely to be non-dippers, the Turkish researchers found.

Researcher Dr Ebru Özpelit, presenting her results at the speaking at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Rome, said: 'If we eat late at night, the body essentially remains on high alert as during the day, rather than relaxing for sleep.

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