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Could skipping dessert be the key to living longer? Recent studies have shown that restricting your daily caloric intake can add years to your life.

It all started with lab rats: Research shows that rats on a low-calorie diet live 30 to 40 percent longer than rodents eating a standard diet. If this same trick works with humans, that may be a good (and sad) reason to go easy on the cheesecake.

Then came the monkeys: Similar findings came from a study of rhesus monkeys, a close comparison to human beings. In addition to increased longevity, the monkeys on a lean diet experienced less diabetes, less heart and brain disease, and less cancer than their better-fed counterparts.

Will it work for humans? A team of researchers at Tufts University in Boston has been conducting a similar study on humans for the past several years. They are trying to determine if reducing caloric intake by 25 to 30 percent produces less disease and a longer lifespan for people, too. So far, the results are promising, and experts say that lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a lower risk of many other diseases are among the positive side effects.

Although many scientists agree that a healthy diet and lifestyle lead to longer lives, the question remains: Exactly why and how does this happen? If they can get to the bottom of this, they might be able to replicate it pharmaceutically. And that could mean one day we might be able to have our cake and live longer, too!

Until then, if you’re tempted to change your diet or exercise program, be sure to consult your physician first. Click here to book an appointment!

Image: Perfectly delightful summer salad, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Wonderlane’s photostream.

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