Why small improvements in diet are important
It’s hard to eat right all the time, but choosing healthier foods every now and then might significantly boost one’s chances of living longer, suggests a study. According to the report, improving diet quality over at least a dozen years is associated with lower total and cardiovascular mortality.
Researchers at Harvard University, US tracked dietary changes in nearly 74,000 health professionals who logged their eating habits every four years. They 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,” read a summary.
Over the 12-year span, those who ate a little better than earlier — primarily by consuming more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish — saw an eight to 17% 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.