Harvard Women's Health Watch

Lose a few pounds to help your heart

If you're overweight, you don't need to get skinny to see real health improvements. Losing just a few pounds could be enough to improve your heart risks, according to a study published in December 2013 in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The study included 417 women who were at least 33 pounds over their ideal body weight. The women took part in a structured weight-loss program or received counseling from a dietitian. Women who lost 10% or more of their initial body weight saw improvements in just about every measure of cardiovascular health—including lower levels of LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), insulin levels, and triglycerides. Even in women who lost smaller amounts of weight, cholesterol levels improved and waist-to-height ratio (another important indicator of heart disease risk) was reduced, which suggests that any amount of weight loss can be good for the heart.

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