Inspired by epidemiological evidence pointing to the link between diet and longevity, researchers evaluated the diets of nearly 120,000 people using a system called the Alternate Healthy Eating Index [AHEI]. As reported in the Journal of Internal Medicine, this system adds points for vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans [legumes], and omega 3 and polyunsaturated fats. The scientists subtracted points for red and processed meats, trans fats, sugar-sweetened drinks, fruit juices, and salt.
After collecting data from the studied population for 30 years, those with the highest AHEI scores were 20% less likely to die of any cause, 17% less likely to die of heart disease, and 16% less likely to die of cancer than those with the lowest scores. The study took into account: age, smoking, exercise, weight, family history of illness, and other factors.
These findings align with those that note improved health, and length of life among those who follow the Mediterranean, Asian, and Blue Zone diets. Now that we are in the early days of spring, it is the perfect time to increase our intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean sources of protein…the delicious plant-based diet to which so many aspire… while we lower risks to our health.
Dateline: Town of Colonie, Albany County, New York State