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Low Calorie Diet Helps Keep Heart Young Healthy and Elastic

January 12th 2006

Low Calorie Diet Helps Keep Heart Young Healthy and Elastic

Calorie Counting Best?

A low caloric diet may slow aging of your heart, according to investigators at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  The researchers studied the heart function of members of the Caloric Restriction Society.

The hearts of these people appear to be more elastic than those of age and gender matched control subjects.  There hearts were able to relax between beats similar to the hearts of young people. 

Luigi Fontana MD PhD said "This is the first study to demonstrate that long-term calorie restriction with optimal nutrition has cardiac-specific effects that ameliorate age-associated declines in heart function.”  He is the assistant professor of medicine at Washington University and an investigator at the Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Rome, Italy.


Previous research has found that mice on a low caloric diet lived longer than those without the restriction.  In fact they lived 30% longer than the other mice.  The lifestyle also helped protect the mice from cancer and atherosclerosis. 

This study included 25 individuals that agreed to restrict their caloric intake to between 1,400 and 2,000 calories daily.  They ranged in age from 41 to 65.  At the end of six years the researchers compared their heart function to 25 age- and gender-matched individuals who ate a typical Western diet. Westerners typically consume between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day.

The researchers were primarily interested in heart function.  It was as if the hearts aged at a much slower pace.  According to Fontana Diastolic function of the heart is a primary marker of aging.  "Diastolic (passive function declines in most people as they get older, but in this study we found that diastolic function in calorie-restricted people resembled diastolic function in individuals about 15 years younger."


In Western countries heart attacks account for about 40 percent of all deaths.  Cancer accounts for another 30 percent.  Fontana calls deaths in both groups can be attributed to what scientists call secondary aging. 

According to their press release secondary aging characterizes “health problems that result from conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and other preventable conditions that contribute to premature death. A healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce risks from secondary aging. But this study suggests calorie restriction with optimal nutrition can do even more.”

The researchers say that it is important to keep the diet balanced and have an exercise regimen.  If you stick to the low caloric diet Fontana says you will likely have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and triglycerides and lower your risk of developing diabetes.


The researchers believe a low caloric diet may not be for everyone.  Instead they recommend a moderate reduction in calories, combined with regular exercise.  Fontana says "If you change the quality of your diet by increasing the servings of nutrient-dense food and reducing -- actually, it would be better to slowly eliminate -- all of the servings of 'empty' calorie foods, you improve your chances of living a healthier and longer life."

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:49 PM