Life expectancy in good health continues to increase over the years. According to the World Health Organization, the number of centenarians could even drop from 573,000 to 19 million by 2100 (source 1). If diet plays a key role in longevity, dinner time could also have an impact on consumer health. At least, that’s what an Italian study published in March 2022 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition confirms (source 2). The researchers looked at the eating habits of the inhabitants of L’Aquila, a province of Abruzzo (Italy), famous for being home to many centenarians.
7:13 p.m., the ideal time for dinner!
They analyzed data from 68 nonagenarians and centenarians, 46 women and 22 men, who had no medical history. The participants were all “of normal weight and, with the exception of hypertension which affected 72% of individuals, they had an extremely low frequency of hypertriglyceridemia (4%) and hypercholesterolemia (19%)”, underlines the ‘study.
Beyond their healthy lifestyle (regular physical activity when working the land, for example), the researchers found that participants tended to eat dinner early in the evening, on average at 7:13 p.m..
Our results support the importance of considering mealtime as a characteristic involved in longevity processes, the study reveals.
17.5 hours between dinner and breakfast
The researchers also observed that the inhabitants of Abruzzo followed a special diet: the “sdijuno”, characterized by having a meal in the middle of the morning, made up of local products: a little cheese, a slice of bread, a few scrambled eggs with vegetables, etc. This late breakfast consists of breaking the fast of the night after an early dinner. These two spaced meals dig a gap of 17.5 hours, from dinner to breakfast, during which followers have a low calorie intake.
According to the authors, these results “underscore the importance of a lack of daily calorie restriction, impeding nocturnal postprandial stress and optimizing metabolic response, combined with high intake of plant-based foods and physical activity for the longevity of the centenarians of Abruzzo”.
The diet of nonagenarians and centenarians was rich in cereals, vegetables, fruits and legumes. Conversely, they consumed little meat (especially can of processed meat), few eggs, and hardly any “sweets”.