You might have heard that “You are what you eat”.
But what does that really mean? Researchers at Harvard University have been studying this and found that eating the right foods can actually help you live longer.
The Study: What Makes a Diet Healthy?
The researchers studied the eating habits of people over a 36-year period. They looked at the data of 75,230 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 44,085 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
These people were healthy at the start of the study and filled out questionnaires about their diets every four years.
The scientists checked their diets against four different healthy eating indexes. These include the Healthy Eating Index 2015, Alternate Mediterranean Diet, Healthful Plant-based Diet Index, and Alternate Healthy Eating Index.
What Makes These Diets Healthy?
All of these diets have some things in common. They all include lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.
Some diets also include other healthy components. For example, the Mediterranean diet also includes fish and olive oil.
The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) recommend these types of diets in their Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
These guidelines are updated every five years and are meant to help Americans choose foods that promote health and prevent chronic diseases.
The Findings: Healthy Diets Lead to Longer Lives
What the researchers found was that people who stuck closely to at least one of these healthy diets were less likely to die early from any cause.
They were also less likely to die from heart disease, cancer, or respiratory disease. This was true for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic people.
In fact, those who followed the Alternate Mediterranean Diet and the Alternate Healthy Eating Index even had a lower risk of dying from neurodegenerative diseases, which are diseases that affect the brain and nerves.
The Takeaway: Choose Your Foods Wisely
So, what does this mean for you? It shows that what you eat really does matter. Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes can help you live a longer, healthier life.
And remember, if you’re interested in nutrition, you might want to read about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain, or when is the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.
You might also be interested in studies about how olive oil may help you live longer, or how vitamin D could lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.
The study was conducted by Frank Hu and his team, and the findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about plant nutrients that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.
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