"This is the first study to show that this type of diet and exercise can reduce oxidative stress, lower blood pressure, and improve risk factors for other chronic diseases in a very short time," says R. James Barnard, Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor of physiological science at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Barnard and colleagues studied 11 obese (body mass index of 30 or greater) men aged 38 to 72, who voluntarily enrolled in the Pritikin Longevity Center 21-day residential diet and exercise program. Seven of the men had hypertension defined as a reading of over 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) systolic or over 90 mm Hg diastolic.
The meals consisted of less than 10 percent of calories from fat, 15 to 20 percent from protein and 70 to 75 percent from unrefined carbohydrates. Carbohydrates were derived from five servings of high-fiber whole grains, four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit daily. Grains, vegetable, and fruit were served all-you-want buffet style. The men had one serving of chicken or fish for dinner. The exercise program consisted of brisk walking on a treadmill for 45 to 60 minutes a day.
Blood samples were drawn for cholesterol, glucose and insulin measurements (all associated with heart disease) at the start and end of the program. The researchers also measured blood pressure, nitric oxide availability and oxidative stress. Nitric oxide helps prevent heart disease in several way
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association