Cutting Back This Many Calories Per Day Could Lower Heart Disease Risk

Cutting Back This Many Calories Per Day Could Lower Heart Disease Risk

Although not surprised by the many health benefits of a calorie-restricted diet, Kraus told MedPage Today his group was "surprised at the magnitude of the effect in already healthy, relatively young, normal weight individuals".

At the beginning of the study, the researchers had asked the participants to cut down a quarter of their daily calorie intake. But the researchers found that even that drop, which translated to about 200-300 fewer calories per day compared to baseline, was associated with "persistent and significant" improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar markers and overall metabolic health, all of which are associated with a lower risk of chronic disease.

For example, 300 calories is six Oreo cookies.

For the first month of the study, participants in the calorie-cutting group were fed three meals per day in-house at one of three clinical centers. Meanwhile, a control group of 75 continued their diet as normal, and visited researchers once every six months. The 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines note that adult women need an estimated 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day and adult men need about 2,000 to 3,000, depending on age, height, weight and level of physical activity.

Results from a health trial show that when trying to decrease your risk of deadly conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, there are always ways to get it better.

At the end of the study, most participants were able to cut around 12 percent, rather than the intended 25 percent, of their daily calorie intake.

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Even so, they managed a 10 percent decline in weight, 71 percent of which was fat. The control group, meanwhile, gained weight on average. They were also more sensitive to insulin, a key blood sugar hormone, potentially reducing the risk of diabetes. During the course of two years, participants in the study who were on a calorie restriction diet lowered their blood pressure and levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol, and saw a 24% drop in concentrations of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood.

A news release said the findings "should provide a new tool for clinicians in fighting the ravages of the 21st century American lifestyle".

The authors wrote that while the study had a large sample size for such an intensive program, it was limited because they were unable to measure plaque build-up in the participants' arteries.

'There's something about caloric restriction, some mechanism we don't yet understand that results in these improvements, ' said the study's lead author Dr William E Kraus, a cardiologist at Duke. "We have collected blood, muscle and other samples from these participants and will continue to explore what this metabolic signal or magic molecule might be". Now a new study shows even people who are already at a healthy weight can improve their risk of heart disease and diabetes.

"People can do this fairly easily by simply watching their little indiscretions here and there, or maybe reducing the amount of them, like not snacking after dinner", Kraus suggested. About 2,200 people in the US die per day because of cardiovascular issues, or once every 40 seconds.

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