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For healthy eating, timing matters

Limiting mealtimes to a 12-hour period per day helps fruit flies’ hearts

2:00pm, March 12, 2015
fruit fly heartbeat graph

KEEPING TIME  Fruit flies that eat just 12 hours per day (blue lines) maintain steady heartbeats into middle age (5 weeks old), while the hearts of flies that can eat around the clock (red) beat irregularly. Each red or blue dash represents the contraction of the heart.

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When you eat may determine how long and strong your heart beats.

Fruit flies that limited eating to 12-hour stints had steadier heartbeats in old age than flies that ate whenever they wanted, researchers report in the March 13 Science. The study adds to a growing body of evidence that the timing of meals may be as important for health as diet composition and calorie counts are.

The research also “suggests that the body clock is involved in cardiovascular function and risk,” says Frank Scheer, a neuroscientist and physiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School. Scheer was not involved in the fruit fly study, but has shown that disrupting people’s daily, or circadian, rhythms can damage their health.

Circadian clocks work in nearly every cell in the body. They govern a wide variety of

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