Calorie restriction can be an important component of a sensible weight-loss program, particularly if caloric binging has been a staple of your weight gain.

But that’s not the only benefit of cutting down on the calories, suggests research that examined data gathered as part of the National Institute on Aging’s CALERIE (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) trial. Calorie restriction also may help slow the biological aging process itself.

In the study, researchers from Duke University School of Medicine analyzed data on 200-plus adults who restricted their calorie intake by 25 percent or maintained their regular diet, with the former group achieving an average 12 percent reduction in calorie intake over the two-year study period. Researchers assessed biological age before, during and after randomizing subjects by assessing biomarkers of cardiovascular, metabolic and immune function, among other variables.

At each annual follow-up assessment, subjects on the restricted-calorie diet experienced a small drop in their biological age (.11 years), while subjects not on calorie restriction saw their biological age rise by nearly a year (.71 years). What’s more, calorie-restricted subjects actually moved closer toward a younger, healthier reference point (young, healthy people in their 20s) determined by the researchers, while subjects not on calorie restriction remained unchanged in terms of movement toward or away from that reference point.

The lesson: Less calories (as part of a sensible eating plan, of course) may be the anti-aging mechanism we’ve all been looking for! Talk to your doctor for more information and assistance designing a balanced, sustainable diet that works for you.