When it comes to losing weight, cutting calories from our diets is usually the first port of call. But reducing your daily intake can do more for your body than just slim your waistline.
According to a new study, cutting just 300 calories from your diet each day could significantly improve your cardiovascular health – even if you are already at a healthy weight.
The study, which was published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, followed its participants over the course of two years, and found those who had restricted their calorie intake lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol, and saw a 24 per cent drop in triglycerides levels, a type of fat in the blood. Participants also saw on average a 10 per cent reduction in body weight.
The study involved 218 healthy adults between the ages of 21 and 50 living in the United States. The participants were split into two groups; the first were asked to reduce calorie intake by 25 per cent, and the second were told to continue to eat normally.
Over the course of the two years, participants in the calorie-restricted group managed to cut their intake by an average of 11.9 per cent, not the intended 25 per cent, taking them from roughly 2,467 to 2,170 – an average reduction of 297 calories.
The study found that participants in this group saw levels of cholesterol significantly reduced after one year, while changes to blood pressure were evident as soon as six months. Changes in the group of participants who did not alter their diet were minimal.
This is the first study of its kind to investigate the potential impact of calorie restriction on the cardiovascular health of healthy young and middle age adults.
"Exercise and diet are the two most profound and easily implemented interventions we have in our environment that can reduce our cardiovascular risks," said Dr. William Kraus, professor at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, who was senior author of the study. "There aren't five drugs on the market when combined that could approach what we saw in this study from moderate calorie restriction."