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October 2019

Magic Pill for Heart Health? Cut 300 Calories a Day

Need another reason to skip dessert? A new study found that consuming just 300 fewer calories each day can help protect your heart. And it’s not just about losing weight (although shedding a few pounds could be an added bonus). In fact, people who are already lean and healthy can reap the same heart-health benefits by cutting calories as those with extra to burn.

Close-up of hands cutting up a strawberry on a cutting board

Boosting heart health

Over the 2-year study, men and women who reduced their typical daily diet by just 215 to 300 calories experienced dramatic improvements in their heart health. In addition to other markers, they had better blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels compared with those who didn’t change their intake. This was true even when controlling for the expected health benefits of weight loss.  

Considering that all these factors increase the risk for heart disease (ahem … the number one cause of death for men and women worldwide), that’s pretty significant. Remember, the better your cardiovascular health, the more likely you are to live a longer life.

Reducing your intake

Think of cutting calories as a prescription for better heart health. After all, there’s no medicine 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 a few times a week:

  • Opt for a piece of fruit for dessert. (FYI: Just six Oreos add up to 300 calories.)

  • 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.)

  • Switch from whole milk to fat-free or 1%.

  • Skip the fancy coffee drink—or just order a small.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2019
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