There are a lot of reasons to pay attention to how much and what you eat - and not just to keep your weight under control. It's important to make sure that you're consuming nutritious food rather than junk. Now a new study has added to the growing body of evidence that caloric restriction can make you healthier.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine found that people who restrict the number of calories they take in have hearts that behave like the hearts of people at least 20 years younger. They say that the hearts of older people who restrict calories have a greater ability to adapt to physical activity and stress.
In their study, which was published in the journal Aging Cell, the Washington University researchers put portable heart monitors on 22 people with the average age of 51 who practiced caloric restrictions (consuming 30 percent fewer calories than normal). They compared this group to 20 people of the same age who ate standard Western diets.
The people who practiced caloric restrictions had lower overall heart rates and healthier heart function.
Other studies have found similar results, especially in laboratory animals - which tend to live as much as 40 percent longer on caloric restrictions.
This doesn't necessarily mean that if you go out today and start chopping calories, your heart will get healthier. The researchers say it's also possible that the people in the study who practiced caloric restriction might also have other healthy habits. But it should make you think twice when you grab that bag of chips or a sugary soda.