New research suggests that Mormons’ habit of fasting for one day a month may benefit their hearts. A study in Utah, where the religion is based, surveyed 515 elderly people undergoing coronary angiography for suspected heart disease about their lifestyle. Those who fasted were 39% more likely than non-fasters to have a healthy heart. About 8% of those surveyed were not Mormons, and those who regularly fasted were also found to have lower rates of heart disease. The authors speculate that abstaining from food may resensitise pancreatic beta cells to insulin, slowing the development of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Diabetic damage to blood vessels increases the risk of heart disease. (American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, November 2007).

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