Avoid the 'Cardiovascular Roller Coaster' this holiday season

"If at first your diet fails, try again. Your heart will thank you."

Posted: Nov 23, 2018 6:26 PM
Updated: Nov 23, 2018 6:33 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- The pattern is all too familiar. Indulging in comfort foods and sweet treats during the holiday season and then starting the New Year with healthier habits.

While it may seem like a healthy plan, new research shows it could actually be harmful to your body.

Purdue Professor Wayne Campbell lead the research on the study called "If at first your diet fails. Try again. Your heart will thank you."

With the holidays in full force, it's easy to put our health to the side toward the end of the year and attempt to hop back on the wagon come January first.

So researchers at Purdue wanted to see how eating patterns like the classic healthy New Year's resolution can affect our bodies.

Participants in the study followed either a Mediterranean or DASH-style eating pattern.

Mediterranean eating is focused on healthy fat intake, where the Dietary Approaches to Stop hypertension, or DASH eating, focuses on controlling sodium intake.

For five to six weeks participants followed one of the two healthy eating patterns and were measured for risk factors.

For the next four weeks they ate as they normally would and returned to the healthy eating pattern again for five to six weeks.

Campbell said the results were like a roller coaster. But it's not just weight that fluctuates, the risk for cardiovascular diseases can as well. Those include blood pressure, cholesterol and even diabetes.

What stood out the most in the study was how quickly participants' health improved when they started the healthy diet.

"While eating healthy can certainly help with your weight control, and/or be a very effective way to help you lose weight if you're purposefully cutting back on calories," Campbell said. "You can achieve really important health benefits by eating a healthy diet even if you are still carrying a few extra pounds."

But Campbell doesn't prefer the term 'diet.' He said diets often give temporary results and it's best to formulate a stable, healthy eating pattern.

He also said it's normal for people to fail at diets, thus giving them that 'cardiovascular roller coaster.'

So before you reach for that second serving this holiday season, think about your heart.

If you are interested in volunteering to be a part of future studies at Purdue University, click here. 

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