Calorie-restriction Can Help Heart Health

A new study finds a moderate caloric restriction might improve heart health as we age

Food Scale

A recent study conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine found that a calorie-restricted healthy diet might lead to better heart health.

Twenty-two people participated in the study, and the age group averaged just above 51. This group was compared to twenty other participants who ate a normal Western diet. The calorie-restricted group had higher heart rate variability, which is beneficial at an older age.

The lead author of the study, Phyllis K. Stein, PhD., writes "Heart rate variability declines with age as our cardiovascular systems become less flexible, and poor heart rate variability is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular death."

Contrary to popular belief, calorie-restricted diets can be healthy and geared to maintaining optimal nutrition. Results of prior studies had shown animals living longer on a calorie-restricted diet, but this is one of the first studies that points to similar effects in humans.

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Stein qualifies the results of her study, however,stating, "People who practice calorie restriction tend to be very healthy in other areas of life, too, so I’m pretty sure they don’t say to themselves, ‘ OK, I’ll restrict my calorie intake to lengthen my life, but I’m still going to smoke two packs a day.’ These people are very motivated, and they tend to engage in a large number of very healthy behaviors."

This is the first piece of evidence in shedding light on the benefits of a healthy calorie-restricted diet as we grow older. More research needs to be done, but the future seems positive.  

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