New research suggests women who eat dinner late in the evening are at risk of developing heart disease.

After studying 112 women, experts at Columbia University found those who ate after 6pm had more risk factors such as high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI) and poor control of blood sugar.

The results also showed that every one percent rise in calories consumed in the evening increased poor heart health markers - which is because eating later at night keeps the body on "high alert" when it should be winding down.

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While blood pressure should drop by at least 10 percent before you go to sleep, the researchers found that eating a meal interrupts this.

"A late dinner, the result of modern-day life, goes against our natural body clock," explained one of the researchers, Dr Nour Makarem.

"But our more demanding work schedules and commutes push everything later and now we are eating at unconventional times."

While this particular study did not look at men, similar studies on males have shown similar results.

Researchers at Harvard have found that men who regularly indulged in a "midnight snack" had a 55 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease than men who didn't.