New evidence from the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Utah shows that periodic fasting not only lowers one's risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also causes changes in blood cholesterol levels.
'Fasting causes hunger or stress. In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilise fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose,' says Benjamin D. Horne, the study's principal investigator
'This decreases the number of fat cells in the body,' says Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at Intermountain Institute.
'This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance or diabetes,' adds Horne, according to an Intermountain statement.
Researchers also found that fasting reduces other cardiac risk factors, such as triglycerides, weight and blood sugar levels.
'These new findings demonstrate that our original discovery was not a chance event,' says Horne.
The discovery expands upon a 2007 Intermountain study that revealed a link between fasting and reduced risk of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death among men and women in the US.
The participants' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol) increased by 14 percent and 6 percent respectively, raising their total cholesterol level and catching the researchers by surprise.
These findings were presented at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans.