Eating a variety of healthy diets could help you live longer

Credit: Dan Gold/ Unsplash.

In a study from Harvard University, scientists found a variety of healthy eating patterns are linked to a reduced risk of premature death.

They found that participants who scored high on adherence to at least one of four healthy eating patterns were less likely to die during the study period from any cause and less likely to die from heart disease, cancer, or respiratory disease, compared with people with lower scores.

The findings are consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for America, which recommend multiple healthy eating patterns.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are intended to provide science-based dietary advice that promotes good health and reduces major chronic diseases.

But few studies have evaluated whether greater adherence to the DGAs-recommended dietary patterns is linked to long-term risk of death.

In the study, the team used health data collected over 36 years from 75,230 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and 44,085 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

All participants were free of heart disease or cancer at the beginning of the study and completed dietary questionnaires every four years.

Their information was scored based on each of the four dietary pattern indexes (Healthy Eating Index 2015, Alternate Mediterranean Diet, Healthful Plant-based Diet Index, and Alternate Healthy Eating Index).

All share key components including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, although other components differ across different eating patterns.

The team found a higher score on at least one of the indexes was associated with a lower risk of premature death from all causes, and from heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease.

Higher scores on the AMED and the AHEI were linked to a lower risk of death from neurogenerative disease. The results were consistent for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic people.

The current DGAs (2015–2020) recommend multiple healthy eating patterns that can be adapted to individual food traditions and preferences.

An updated version of the Guidelines is released every five years by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA).

The team says it is important to evaluate adherence to DGAs-recommended eating patterns and health outcomes, including mortality so that timely updates can be made.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The study was conducted by Frank Hu et al and published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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