Can lowering calories improve your blood pressure? Learn about the connection between calorie restriction and its impact on blood pressure.
According to some studies, restricting calories may be beneficial when it comes to your blood pressure and heart health. In a small study, researchers found that restricting calories dramatically reduced the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
“It is clear that calorie restriction has a powerful protective effect against diseases associated with aging,” says researcher John O. Holloszy, MD. “We don’t yet know if these people will live longer, but we know that their risk for these diseases is very low.”
What the Study Says
The participants included 18 people from the Calorie Restriction Optimal Nutrition Society, which advocates for the consumption of 10% to 25% fewer calories than normal while also maintaining proper nutrition. Study findings were published in the April 27 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The calorie-restriction participants were compared with 18 age- and sex-matched participants who ate a typical American diet. Researchers evaluated blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels.
According to their study, the normal diet group had an average blood pressure (BP) of 130/80, which qualifies as Hypertension Stage 1. In contrast, the calorie-restriction group had an average BP of 100/60, which is normal and typical for a 10-year old.
In addition, the normal diet group had a body mass index (BMI) of 26, whereas the calorie-restriction group had a BMI of 19.5. For reference, a BMI of 25 and up is considered overweight. Cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels were also better in the calorie-restriction group vs. the normal diet group.
Is Calorie-Restriction for Everyone?
While these findings are interesting, Holloszy clarifies that a calorie-restricting diet is not for everyone. “This is an extreme diet that takes tremendous motivation,” says Holloszy. “There are very few people who could stay on it very long. I think the message for everyone else is that moderate calorie restriction to lower body mass is still beneficial.”
Brian Delaney, president of the Calorie Restriction Optimal Nutrition Society, also agrees that it’s not for everyone – or even most people. “I think everyone should do what they need to do to have a great life,” says Delaney. “Some of the most productive people in history were gluttons who died young. So for people who would be miserable doing this and who wouldn’t be productive, I say why do it? But for those who want to try it, there is no question that it prevents disease.”
While calorie-restricting may offer some benefits, the truth is that doctors have trouble getting people to lose 5 to 10 pounds. However, a more realistic goal is to reach and maintain healthy body weight.
In addition to restricting your calories, there are plenty of ways to strengthen your blood pressure health. For example, you can exercise regularly, eat healthily, and take supplements like L-arginine Plus.
Its ingredients effectively promote circulation, blood pressure health, cholesterol health, and more. If you can’t restrict your calories, then don’t sweat it – just exercise, diet, and take L-arginine Plus to support your heart health.