Scientists from Anhui Medical University and elsewhere found that eating healthy plant-based diets may help people live long, whereas eating unhealthy plant-based diets may increase the death risk.
A plant-based diet means most of the foods in the diet are from plant sources, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, beans, and oils.
This eating pattern may include small amounts of animal products, such as meat, fish/seafood, eggs, and dairy.
Although recent studies have shown the importance of a diet high in plant-based foods, the association between a plant-based diet and the long-term risk of death has been unclear.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine whether the plant-based diet was linked to lower death risk.
They used data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Diet was assessed using 24 h dietary recalls.
The team created three plant-based diet indices including an overall plant-based diet index, a healthful plant-based diet index, and an unhealthful plant-based diet index.
During a follow-up of almost 8 years, there were 4904 deaths among 40,074 participants.
The team found greater adherence to a plant-based diet index was linked to lower risks of overall and cancer-specific deaths.
These associations remained for the healthful plant-based diet index and overall death risk, but not for cancer or heart death risk.
Conversely, the unhealthful plant-based diet index was linked to higher risks of total and heart-specific deaths.
Based on the findings, the researchers conclude that an increased intake of a plant-based diet rich in healthier plant foods is linked to lower death risks.
But a plant-based diet that emphasizes less-healthy plant foods is linked to high death risks among US adults.
The research was published in the European Journal of Nutrition and conducted by Hairong Li et al.
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