For many, consuming cookies at night has become a part of life while some are finding sleep almost impossible without midnight cookies or other snacks. Most People eat late at night for a variety of reasons that has little or nothing to do with hunger. Some do it to satisfy cravings while others engage in the practice to cope with stress, boredom or emotional distress. These nocturnal habits are not only detrimental to physical health, they have other far reaching consequences according to recent studies.
Cookies or biscuits as it is called in most parts of the world are baked or cooked from flour, sugar , with some addition of oil or fat and other ingredients or flavorings which may include nuts, chocolate chips, oats and raisins. Approximately 100 grams of most common cookies contains 502 calories and a total fat content of around 24 grams. Consuming cookies at bedtime, just before sleep or after dinner has several scientifically proven effects most of which are detrimental to health.
Why Midnight Cookies is bad for your health
It Increases the Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Cookies in general are sugar packed with the exception of the salty and sugar free or low carb versions, the high sugar content can abruptly increase blood sugar levels. The introduction of these unnecessary calories into the blood stream at night often lead to weight gain and obesity. Being overweight significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Studies have also shown that, increased sugar content in a population diet was linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates. Most food production companies do not list “sugar” as a key ingredient. Instead they list the monosaccharide units of the sugar. Majority of cookies contain sugar in form of dextrose, lactose, fructose, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, honey, malt syrup, agave nectar, maltodextrin, or artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, such as maltitol. Watching out for the quantity of the sugars in cookie labels is important.
It Affects Sleep Pattern and Quality
Midnight cookies and snacks cause energy levels to rise and plummet, this orographic energy graph often disrupt sleep pattern and reduce sleep quality. Studies have shown that short sleepers (individuals who get less < 6 hours per night) tend to be individuals with irregular eating habits and individuals who eat more snack and other unhealthy diets. Sleep disruptions can have significant effect on health. A study involving more than 4,000 people reported that, individuals who got less than 6 hours of sleep a day were twice as likely to have cells that were less sensitive to insulin or to have full-blown diabetes.
It Negatively Impacts Brain Function
Midnight cookies and midnight snacks can significantly harm your learning abilities and memory according to a research conducted by neuroscientists at the University of California, Los Angeles. The study reported that “late-night snacking” had striking consequences for a variety of behaviors and consuming them at the wrong time can lead to the disruption of the entire system.
The study which evaluated the impact of chronic sleep disruption observed that an increasing amount of individuals in the population are affected by the condition which is largely due to the advent of artificial light, extended working time and increasingly delayed dinners.
It Increases the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Fat and oil are major component of most cookies and snacks. A gram of fat produce more than double the amount of calories from the same quantity of protein and carbohydrates. The accumulation of fat in the blood vessel leads to hardening and narrowing of the arteries which over time begin to obstruct blood flow, a condition known as atherosclerosis. The fat content of cookies especially saturated fat increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease.
Following the controversy over publication of a skewed study which held that there was no link between saturated fats and heart disease, International institutions including the World Health Organization, the World Heart Federation , the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Medicine, the Dietitians of Canada, and the British Dietetic Association have evaluated the study as well as available data and the general scientific consensus is that saturated fat is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
It leads to Weight Gain
Eating cookies or snacks while sitting in front of the television or computer often lead to the consumption the entire bag, carton, or container before one realizes it. Consuming these unnecessary calories at bedtime can cause indigestion and weight gain. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, night time eaters ate 12 % more calories than individuals who ate only throughout the day. Consuming foods with high sugar and fat content at night leads to elevated blood sugar levels resulting in subsequent sugar crashes and weight gain.
Excess weight has serious and life threatening consequences on health. On the average, excess weight increases the risk of a whopping 50 different health conditions which include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer. A Harvard study involving more than 50,000 men and more than 120,000 women revealed that obesity increased the risk of developing diabetes by 20 times and substantially boosted the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and gallstones. In addition, High blood pressure is about six times more common in people who are obese than in those who are not according to the American Heart Association.
Nutritionist Recommended Healthy late Night Snacks
For individuals who cannot do without late night snacks, nutritionist recommend the following healthy alternatives;
- Whole Grain Crackers
- High-Fiber Cereal and Milk
- Non Fat Greek Yogurt
- Avocado or Hard-Boiled Egg
- Fruit and Nuts
- Turkey Slices on Bread