According to a study of 119,000 people over four decades, these healthy diets were associated with a lower risk of death

Eat healthy, live longer.

That’s the conclusion of a large 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 most adhered to at least one of four healthy eating patterns were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, cancer or respiratory disease compared to people who did not follow the rules. so close to these diets. They were also less likely to die from any cause.

“These findings support Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendations that multiple healthy eating patterns can be adapted to individual food traditions and preferences,” the researchers concluded, adding that the results were consistent across different racial and ethnic groups. The eating habits and mortality rates of more than 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 some components, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. But there are also differences: for example, the alternative Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of fish and the Healthful Plant-Based Diet Index discourages eating meat.

The Alternative Mediterranean Diet is adapted from the original Mediterranean Diet, which consists of olive oil (which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids), fruits, nuts, grains, vegetables, legumes and fish. It allows for moderate consumption of alcohol and dairy products, but low consumption of sweets and only an occasional serving of red meat. The alternative version, meanwhile, cuts dairy entirely, contains only whole grains, and uses the same alcohol intake guideline for men and women, says JAMA.

The world’s “best diets” overlap with research findings

The Mediterranean Diet consistently ranks No. 1 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Diets ranking, which looks at seven criteria: short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, effectiveness in preventing cardiovascular disease, effectiveness in preventing of diabetes, ease of compliance, 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 sugar-sweetened beverages. The Flexitarian diet is similar to the other diets in that it is primarily vegetarian, but allows the occasional portion of meat or fish. All three diets are associated with improved metabolic health, lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the latest study, said it’s critical to examine the associations between the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines for Americans and long-term health. . “Our findings will be valuable to the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is being formed to evaluate the current evidence on various eating patterns and health outcomes,” he said.

Reducing salt intake is a good start. In 2021, the Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines for restaurants and food manufacturers to voluntarily reduce the amount of sodium in their food over a two-and-a-half year period to help consumers stay below the 3,000 milligrams per day limit — still above the recommended daily amount. Americans consume an average of about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people consume less than 2,300 milligrams per day.

Related: Eating 400 calories a day from these foods can increase your risk of dementia by more than 20%

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