Small diet changes may pro­long life: study

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

MI­AMI — It’s hard to eat right all the time, but mak­ing small im­prove­ments by choos­ing health­ier foods now and then may sig­nif­i­cantly boost one’s chances of liv­ing longer, says a US study.

The re­port in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine is the first to show that im­prov­ing diet qual­ity over at least a dozen years is as­so­ci­ated with lower to­tal and car­dio­vas­cu­lar mor­tal­ity.

Re­searchers at Har­vard Univer­sity tracked di­etary changes in a pop­u­la­tion of nearly 74,000 health professionals who logged their eat­ing habits ev­ery four years.

Re­searchers used a sys­tem of diet-qual­ity scores to as­sess how much di­ets had im­proved.

For in­stance, a 20-per­centile in­crease in scores could “be achieved by swap­ping out just one serv­ing of red or pro­cessed meat for one daily serv­ing of nuts or legumes,” says a sum­mary of the re­search.

Over the 12-year span, those who ate a lit­tle bet­ter than they did at the start — pri­mar­ily by con­sum­ing more whole grains, fruits, veg­eta­bles, and fatty fish — saw an eight to 17 per­cent lower risk of dy­ing pre­ma­turely in the next 12 years.

Those whose di­ets got worse over time saw a higher risk of dy­ing in the next 12 years of fol­low-up, on the or­der of a six to 12 per­cent in­crease.

“Our re­sults high­light the long-term health ben­e­fits of im­prov­ing diet qual­ity with an em­pha­sis on over­all di­etary pat­terns rather than on in­di­vid­ual foods or nu­tri­ents,” says se­nior au­thor Frank Hu, pro­fes­sor and chair of the Har­vard Chan School De­part­ment of Nutri­tion.

“A healthy eat­ing pat­tern can be adopted ac­cord­ing to in­di­vid­u­als’ food and cul­tural pref­er­ences and health con­di­tions,” he adds.

“There is no one-size-fits-all diet.”


Study finds that con­sum­ing more whole grains, fruits, veg­eta­bles, and fatty fish may boost one’s chances of liv­ing longer.

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