- With Mayo Clinic cardiologist
Martha Grogan, M.D.read biographyclose window
Martha Grogan, M.D.Martha Grogan, M.D.
Dr. Martha Grogan is board-certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases. She is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and received her medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. Dr. Grogan has been on staff at Mayo Clinic since 1995 and is a consultant in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and is an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School.
Dr. Grogan is a noninvasive cardiologist specializing in heart failure, adult congenital heart disease and echocardiography. She has witnessed firsthand the importance of patient education in the treatment of diseases such as congestive heart failure and is excited about the tremendous educational opportunities now available through the Internet.
Risk factors (2)
- Calcium supplements: A risk factor for heart attack?
- Silent heart attack: What are the risks?
- Trouble breathing: Could it be asthma?
- Vitamin D deficiency: Can it cause high blood pressure?
- Omega-6 fatty acids: Can they cause heart disease?
Treatments and drugs (2)
- Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
- Coronary artery disease: Angioplasty or bypass surgery?
Lifestyle and home remedies (5)
- Butter vs. margarine: Which is better for my heart?
- Grass-fed beef: What are the heart-health benefits?
- Healthy chocolate: Dream or reality?
- see all in Lifestyle and home remedies
- Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
- Olive oil: What are the health benefits?
- Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
- see all in Prevention
Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
Is it true that occasionally following a fasting diet can reduce my risk of heart disease?
from Martha Grogan, M.D.
Maybe. Researchers aren't exactly sure why, but it seems that occasionally fasting — not having any food and drink for about 24 hours at a time — can potentially improve your heart health.
It's difficult to tell what effect fasting has on your heart health because many people who routinely fast often do so for religious reasons. These people generally tend to not smoke or drink alcohol, which also can reduce heart disease risk.
However, it still appears people who follow a fasting diet may have better heart health than people who don't. This may be because people who routinely fast show self-control over how many calories they eat and drink, and this behavior may translate into better eating choices when they aren't fasting.
The link between periodic fasting and better heart health may also be linked to the way your body metabolizes cholesterol and sugar. Regular fasting can decrease your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol. It's also thought that fasting may improve the way your body metabolizes sugar. This can reduce your risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes, which are both risk factors for heart disease.
If you're considering periodically fasting, you should talk to your doctor before doing so. He or she can tell you whether fasting is a good idea for you, and how often you should consider doing so. Keep in mind that regularly following a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly also can improve your heart health.Next question
Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
- Horne BD, et al. Usefulness of routine periodic fasting to lower risk of coronary artery disease in patients undergoing coronary angiography. American Journal of Cardiology. 2008;102:814.
- Bhutani S, et al. Improvements in coronary heart disease risk indicators by alternate-day fasting involve adipose tissue modulations. Obesity. 2010;18:2152.
- Kouda K, et al. Beneficial effects of mild stress (hormetic effects): Dietary restriction and health. Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 2010;29:127.