300 calories to a healthier life, one cookie at a time

300 calories to a healthier life, one cookie at a time

So, your weight is normal or you’re carrying just a few extra pounds. Life is good. Maybe you don’t have to worry so much about those calories piled on the dinner plate.

But a study by Duke University researchers indicates that even a small cut in daily calories — a mere 300 — can improve cholesterol, blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Triglycerides contribute to a hardening of the arteries.

As the researchers noted, that’s not a lot of calories. They point out it’s the equivalent of three Oreo cookies, or a similar number of other favorite snacks.

The scientists recruited more than 200 healthy adults for their study, all between the ages of 21 to 50. More than half were randomly assigned to start a diet that cut their calorie intake by 25 percent for a two-year period. The rest didn’t alter their eating habits.

Like so many dieting Americans, the people asked to cut their calories by 25 percent failed as a whole. On average, they cut their average food consumption by almost 12 percent. That added up to just under 300 calories.

But this failure wasn’t a failure at all. Scientists said the dieting participants improved many of the markers that point to heart health. They lowered their blood pressure, improved cholesterol and their triglycerides. They were able to sustain a 10 percent weight loss. A biomarker indicating chronic inflammation in the body also was improved. Such inflammation has been linked to heart disease, cancer and cognitive decline.

Researchers found these improvements are achievable by eliminating a few of the day’s snacky indiscretions — as little as three cookies.

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