A healthful diet has proven to impart many health benefits over the years. Now a landmark study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has shown that long term adherence to a calorie restricted diet positively influences the normal age-related decline in cardiac function in healthy, non-obese adults.
Previously, caloric restriction was proven to actually slow the aging process and increase the lifespan of small mammals, but this is the first study that provides evidence that caloric restriction can delay primary aging in humans as well.
Dr. Luigi Fontana, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis and his colleagues compared 25 healthy adults who followed a nutritionally balanced, low calorie diet for an average of 6.5 yrs (the study group) to 25 subjects with similar characteristics who followed a traditional Western diet (the control group) .
The study group followed a calorie-restricted diet consisting of approximately 1,671 calories each day, compared to the control group which followed a typical Western diet consisting roughly 2,445 calories each day. It is important to note that though the study diet had far fewer calories than the typical Western diet, it contained no less than 100% of the RDA for all nutrients.
The researchers performed an ultrasound of the heart (called an echocardiogram, or ECHO) to assess structural and functional parameters. They found that those who followed the calorie-restricted diet had hearts that relaxed more normally (were not as stiff) than those who followed the Western diet. Of further significance, lab tests showed that an important marker of inflammation that has been linked to heart disease, namely C-reactive protein, was significantly lower in those who followed the calorie-restricted diet. Finally, the average blood pressure was far lower in the calorie-restricted diet group compared to their Western diet counterparts (102/61 vs 131/83).
The bottom line? Eat smart. Eat right. Eat to live, donít live to eat.
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