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Does counting calories really matter?


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When debating the nutritional value of something, most health-conscious people have the same habit: Check out the ingredients list, and then look over to the nutritional panel, eyeing the sugar, carbs, protein, and calories (and maybe fiber, if you’re really into gut health). A low calorie count always seems like a good thing—and it’s been used as a marketing boast for decades—but according to a new report published in The Pharmaceutical Journal, it’s not as important as you might think.

Top researchers looked at various studies and found that a diet high in calories isn’t an accurate predictor for developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes. This is major news: “Many normal-weight people—up to one-third—succumb to type 2 diabetes, too,” the study says. What about them?

“Many normal-weight people—up to one-third—succumb to type 2 diabetes, too.”

Similarly, the researchers point out that 40 percent of non-overweight adults develop hypertension and fatty liver disease. Here’s why this is another major health news bomb: According to the new data, there are 44 clinical trials showing that lowering cholesterol through diet and drugs (the method most doctors currently take) has failed to reduce death rates—and in some cases, has even hurt patients.

So if you aren’t obese and don’t want to get diabetes or hypertension, what can you do (besides nix sugar)? Fortunately, the solution the researchers of this report suggest isn’t breaking news by any stretch: The Mediterranean Diet and moderate exercise. “The diet has been attributed to its high omega-3s and polyphenol content present in nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, and fish, which dampen the inflammatory response,” the report reads. “What little carbs [there are] exists alongside fiber, lowering the glycemic load, liver fat, and insulin response.”

The takeaway here: Even if you aren’t overweight, you could still be at risk for a cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. But if you move your body everyday and eat a diet low in carbs and high in omega-3s, there’s no need to obsessively worry. So stop counting calories and start filling up on healthy fats (and hey, some extra #selfcaresunday TLC can’t hurt).

Besides failing at preventing diabetes, restricting your calories won’t help you lose weight either. And have you heard about what the Mediterranean Diet does for your skin?

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