People who regularly snack on unhealthy foods are more at risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke, experts have said.

Researchers from King’s College London have discovered that a quarter of Brits are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and having a stroke due to their unhealthy snacking habits.

Adults snacking on cakes, chocolate and crisps before bed are putting their health at risk even if they follow a healthy diet overall.

A study of 854 people has found that snacking on unhealthy foods late at night ‘undoes the benefits’ of eating healthy meals throughout the day.

People who regularly eat junk food snacks were more likely to have a higher BMI and high blood sugar – putting them more at risk of being obese, having a stroke or developing cardiovascular disease, the results have reported.

According to the researchers, snacking can be healthy if people eat more nutritious treats like seeds, nuts and fruit.

During the study, each participant filled in a diet survey to outline the types of snacks they consume.

More than 90% of the participants self-reported that they snack, with most people eating 2.28 snacks per days.

The researchers said: “26% of participants reported eating healthy meals but opted for poor quality snacks which left them feeling hungry.”

Top author Dr Sarah Berry said: “Considering 95% of us snack, and that nearly a quarter of our calories come from snacks, swapping unhealthy snacks such as cookies, crisps and cakes to healthy snacks like fruit and nuts is a really simple way to improve your health.”

Co-author Dr Kate Bermingham said: “This study contributes to the existing literature that food quality is the driving factor in positive health outcomes from food.

“Making sure we eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, protein and legumes is the best way to improve your health.”

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