Slight Calorie Restriction Can Benefit Your Heart, Even If You Are Already Healthy

Even young, healthy, skinny people can benefit from cutting just 300 calories a day from their diet, says a new study published this week in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.  Apparently this is a tiny lifestyle change that could have major payoffs in terms of heart health. 

Through techniques like intermittent fasting or simply skipping out on dessert more often than not, the study showed that caloric restriction could help even those of healthy weight.  Over the course of two years, those who participated in the study by lowering their caloric intake also lowered their blood pressure and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. They also saw a 24 percent drop in triglycerides concentration, a type of fat that collects in the bloodstream. 

For reference, the 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines note an estimated daily calorie range of 1,600 to 2,400 for women and 2,000 to 3,000 for men, depending on age, height, weight, and physical activity level, of course. 

Lead study author Dr. William Kraus explains that exercise and diet, of course, are the two most profound interventions available to reduce cardiovascular risk.  They also happen to be easy to implement.  Most important, there is no combination of drugs currently available on the market that could come close to the benefits you receive from a simple calorie restriction intervention.

The study observed 218 healthy adults between the ages of 21 and 50, with data collected from three clinical centers throughout the United States.  For the study, 143 of these adults were randomly selected to follow a 25 percent calorie restriction diet.  The other 75 adults were assigned to eat as they normally would. 

While the adults in the calorie restriction group only managed to reduce their intake by 11.9 percent—not the prescribed 25 percent—total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels dropped significantly within a year.  Changes in the free feeding group were slight.  In addition, though, the researchers also found that the calorie restriction group lowered their collective blood pressure, often within just six months.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability around the world.  Actually, recent data suggests around 2,200 people die every day, in the United States, as a result of cardiovascular problems.  That is the equivalent of about one death every 40 seconds.  The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention frames it that heart disease claims about 1 in 4 US deaths every year.