Eat healthy, live longer.
That’s according to a major study published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine. Scientists led by a team from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that people who adhered most to at least one of the four healthy eating habits were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, cancer or respiratory disease compared to non-adherents. closer to these regimes. They were also less likely to die from any cause.
“These results support the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that several healthy eating habits can be adapted to individual dietary traditions and preferences,” the researchers concluded, adding that the results were consistent across different racial and ethnic groups. The dietary habits and mortality rates of over 75,000 women from 1984 to 2020 and 44,000 men from 1986 to 2020 were included in the study.
The four diets studied were the Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Mediterranean Diet, the Healthful Plant-Based Diet Index, and the Alternate Healthy Eating Index. All four share certain components, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. But there are also differences: for example, the Alternative Mediterranean Diet encourages fish consumption, and the Healthy Plant-Based Diet Index discourages meat consumption.
The Alternative Mediterranean Diet is adapted from the Original Mediterranean Diet, which includes olive oil (which is high in omega-3 fatty acids), fruits, nuts, grains, vegetables, legumes, and fish. It allows a moderate consumption of alcohol and dairy products but a low consumption of sweets and only an occasional serving of red meat. The alternative version, meanwhile, cuts out dairy entirely, includes only whole grains, and uses the same alcohol consumption guidelines for men and women, JAMA says.
World’s ‘best diets’ overlap with study results
The Mediterranean diet consistently ranks first in US News and World Report’s Best Diets rankings, which examines seven criteria: short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, effectiveness in preventing cardiovascular disease, effectiveness in diabetes prevention, ease of adherence, nutritional completeness and health risks. The 2023 list ranks the top three diets as the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the flexitarian diet.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet recommends fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products and limits salt, red meat, sweets and beverages sweet. The flexitarian diet is similar to other diets in that it is primarily vegetarian, but allows for the occasional serving of meat or fish. All three diets are associated with better metabolic health, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the latest study, said it was essential to examine the associations between the US government’s dietary guidelines for Americans and the long-term health. “Our findings will be valuable to the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is being formed to assess the current evidence around different eating patterns and health outcomes,” he said.
Reducing salt intake is a good starting point. In 2021, the Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines for restaurants and food manufacturers to, over a two-and-a-half-year period, voluntarily reduce the amount of sodium in their foods to help consumers stay below a limit of 3,000 milligrams per day, always above the recommended daily allowance. Americans consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, on average, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people consume less than 2,300 milligrams per day.
This article originally appeared on MarketWatch.
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