According to new research, chewing through your food too quickly can lead to putting on weight and even trigger problems with your heart, so you may want to take more time over your next meal.
The study found that slower eaters were less likely to become obese and less likely to develop metabolic syndrome – a combination of disorders that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.
Those disorders include high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar, and low HDL cholesterol levels. They can all be harmful on their own, but if they're diagnosed together, then the chance of developing cardiovascular problems goes up even further.
"Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome," says the study author, cardiologist Takayuki Yamaji, from Hiroshima University in Japan.
"When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance."
Yamaji and her colleagues looked at 642 men and 441 women with an average age of 51.2 years, none of whom had metabolic syndrome in 2008.
The participants were then divided into three groups depending on what they said their usual eating speed was: slow, normal, or fast.
Coming back to the group after five years, the researchers found that 11.6 percent of fast eaters had developed metabolic syndrome, compared with 6.5 percent of the normal eaters, and 2.3 percent of the slower eaters.
A faster eating speed was also associated with gaining more weight, higher blood glucose levels, and a larger waistline.
It's worth noting that the research has yet to be peer-reviewed, and has so far only been presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017.
However, it does partially match up with previous research that suggests wolfing down your food is going to lead to a higher risk of obesity further down the line.
Part of the reason seems to be that the stomach doesn't have time to tell the body that it's filling up, so we end up eating more than we need to.
Now it looks as though heart health can be affected by the speed that we're eating at too, on top of the usual increased risk of heart problems that comes with obesity.
As well as taking more time to chew, the American Heart Association recommends eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as exercising more, as ways to reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
The latest study shows that the modern-day trend of grabbing a quick bite to eat isn't ideal for a healthy heart, according to Jeremy Pearson, the Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, who wasn't involved in the research.
"If anything, [this is] a reminder that many of us have hectic lifestyles which may include eating quickly at the desk over lunchtime, or in a rush commuting home," says Pearson.
"When doing this, it's important that people take the time to choose healthy balanced options, rather than just reaching for ready meals or takeaways."
The study was presented at American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017.