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Want to Live Longer? Study says to eat like this

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This article was originally published on Clean Eating

It’s no surprise that what people eat has an impact on their health, but trying to pinpoint exactly which of the hundreds of diets out there is the most ideal for a long, healthy life can be overwhelming. A new study reports that there is no 1 ideal diet for longevity, but several general dietary patterns that can change lifespan.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the to study found that it is possible to reduce the risk of premature death by almost 20% by eating foods from one of four healthy eating patterns: A mediterranean diet, a plant-based diet, the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (more information below). All four eating patterns emphasize whole grains, fruits, vegetables and greens.

Harvard Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition, Dr. Frank Hu, said in a statement: “It is critical to examine the associations between dietary patterns recommended by the DGAs and long-term health outcomes, especially mortality.”

Hu says there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to healthy eating, and food choices can be tailored to individual preferences as long as they follow the basic tenets of any of the four healthy eating styles. This means that even if you get tired of eating one way, you can switch to another eating plan.

The study tracked the eating habits of 75,000 women and 44,000 men over 36 years. Every four years, participants filled out questionnaires about the foods they ate, and each person was scored based on how well they adhered to one or more of the eating patterns.

Participants who stayed consistent with their healthy eating patterns reduced their risk of dying from respiratory disease by 35% to 46%, of cardiovascular disease by 6% to 13%, and of cancer by 7% to 18%.

Most people are familiar with the Mediterranean diet and a plant-based diet, but what about the other half of the four recommended healthy eating patterns?

Alternative Healthy Eating Index

Developed by Harvard researchers, the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) assigns ratings to foods for how well they prevent chronic diseases and illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.

Some AHEI food choices include a variety of vegetables with a focus on leafy greens, four servings of fruit a day, whole grains, nuts, legumes and plant-based proteins like tofu, fish, and healthy fats like olive oil. When following this dietary pattern, it is suggested to avoid potatoes, refined grains, fruit juices and saturated fats.

Study participants who followed the AHEI dietary pattern reduced their risk of death by 20%.

Recipes that adhere to the AHEI:

Spaghetti Olive Oil and Garlic with Artichokes and Olives

Chicken with Apricot and Ginger with Garlic Leaves

Energetic Greens and Millet Salad

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is a metric designed to measure diet quality by how well a person follows its recommendations: focus on nutrient variety, density and servings, limit added sugars, saturated fats and sodium, and avoid sugary drinks. The guidelines are less specific about what foods to eat, and more an outline on how to customize nutrient-dense meals, meeting dietary needs and staying within calorie limits.

In that study, participants who followed this eating pattern had a 19% lower risk of dying.

Recipes that adhere to the DGA:

This Is The Easiest Roasted Chicken You’ll Ever Make

Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Smoked Trout and Creamy Cilantro Sauce

Roasted root vegetables with basil and tahini drizzle

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