Magic Pill for Heart Health? Cut 300 Calories a Day
A new study found that consuming just 300 fewer calories—the equivalent of six Oreo cookies or three Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups—each day can help protect your heart and curb your diabetes risk.
By Jeffrey Namey, MD, Virtua Health Cardiologist
Need another reason to skip dessert? A new study found that consuming just 300 fewer calories—the equivalent of six Oreo cookies or three Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups—each day can help protect your heart and curb your diabetes risk.
For the study, published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, participants were asked to reduce their calorie intake by 25 percent. After two years, most had trimmed their diets by an average of 12 percent, or about 300 calories a day.
The volunteers experienced dramatic improvements in heart health, including better blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels compared with those who didn’t change their intake. They also had improved insulin resistance and metabolic rates, as well as lower levels of markers of chronic inflammation.
While researchers believe many factors went into the participants’ improved health, it’s clear weight loss played a role.
Losing weight reduces your heart’s workload and blood pressure. There are fewer blood fats that can clog your coronary arteries. Your triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol goes down, and your HDL “good” cholesterol goes up. You also have less abdominal fat, which also reduces your risk for heart disease.
Reduce Your Intake
Think of cutting calories as a prescription for better heart health. After all, there’s no medication available today that can produce these results. You don’t need to make a dramatic change to your diet to drop 300 calories. In fact, it can be easier than you think.
Try these tips:
- Opt for a piece of fruit for dessert or snack.
- Cook at home instead of hitting the drive-through.
- Say no to second helpings.
- Swap higher calorie foods for lower ones (low-fat Greek yogurt tastes almost the same as sour cream at a fraction of the calories).
- Pass on the pizza, fries and chips.
- Steer clear of candy, cookies, cakes and ice cream.
- Switch from whole milk to fat-free or 1 percent.
- Skip the fancy coffees, fruit juices and beer.
- Don’t eat before going to bed.
For maximum benefit, be sure to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Remember, the better your cardiovascular health, the more likely you are to live a longer life.
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