People who skip meals once a month are 40 percent less likely to have clogged arteries as those who do not fast regularly, according to Utah researchers.
About 70 percent of Utah’s population are Mormons, who fast during the first Sunday of each month.
Religion, however, was not behind the benefits of fasting. Even non-Mormons who skipped food occasionally were less likely to have clogged arteries.
The study came about after researchers discovered that only 61 percent of Mormons had heart disease compared with 66 percent of non-Mormons. After surveying 515 people about Mormon’s typical religious practices, which included a weekly day of rest, not drinking alcohol or smoking, donating time and money to charity, avoiding tea and coffee, and monthly fasting, only fasting made a significant difference in heart risk.
Only 59 percent of those who skipped meals regularly were diagnosed with heart disease, compared with 67 percent of non-fasters.
The researchers suggested that periodic fasting forces your body to burn fat and also gives it a break from making insulin to metabolize sugar. Fasting may therefore help to resensitize insulin-producing cells and make them work better.
- American Heart Association™ Scientific Sessions November 2007 Orlando, Florida