Healthy plant-based diets could help you live longer

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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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