According to UK researchers middle-aged and older adults who ate frequently throughout the day had lower "bad" cholesterol levels compared with those who tended to eat only one or two large meals per day. This was despite the fact that the frequent eaters had a higher calorie and fat intake. The explanation could rest in the different metabolic responses to these eating patterns, the study's lead author.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge looked at data on more than 14,600 men and women aged 45 to 75. Participants were asked about their current eating habits and activity levels, and had their cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight recorded. They found that participants' total cholesterol counts declined as their eating frequency increased. Those who ate at least five or six times a day had the lowest total cholesterol, on average, while the highest measurements were found among those who dined only once or twice a day. The same pattern showed up for LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
Frequent eaters did not, however, have higher levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, which is believed to help protect the heart from disease.
Frequent eaters may metabolize what they eat differently than infrequent eaters. Frequent eaters may also get more exercise, spurring their need to eat more often.
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