empty plate
Intermittent fasting may help you live longer
01:01 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Cutting just 300 calories from your daily diet could significantly benefit your cardiovascular health, even if you’re already at a healthy weight, according to a new study.

Such caloric restriction can be achieved through techniques such as intermittent fasting, or by skipping that slice of cheesecake for dessert.

During the course of two years, participants in the study who were on a calorie restriction diet lowered their blood pressure and levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol, and saw a 24% drop in concentrations of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. The study was published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on Thursday.

A reduction of 300 calories daily refers to the average cutback in calories obtained by the study participants, said Dr. William Kraus, distinguished professor at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, who was senior author of the study.

“Exercise and diet are the two most profound and easily implemented interventions we have in our environment that can reduce our cardiovascular risks,” he said. “There aren’t five drugs on the market when combined that could approach what we saw in this study from moderate calorie restriction.”

How calorie restriction might protect the heart

The study involved 218 healthy adults, ages 21 to 50, in three clinical centers across the United States. Between 2007 and 2010, 143 of those adults were randomly assigned to start a 25% calorie restriction diet – meaning they tried to cut back 25% of what they would normally consume – while the remaining 75 adults followed an “ad libitum” or “free-feeding” diet, meaning they ate normally.

The adults in the calorie restriction group reduced their calorie intake by 11.9%, not the intended 25%, the researchers found, going from 2,467 calories a day to 2,170 – a reduction of 297 calories.

“This trial went on for two years, so some participants were able to maintain the restrictions and others were not as successful,” Kraus said.