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Study Shows Healthy Eating Habits Lengthen Life

Posted: June 29, 2009

A new study from researchers in New York shows the value of an all-around healthy diet, even if people aren't eating perfectly.

If you eat a healthy diet, you're likely to live longer. It might be trite advice, but a new study offers proof that it can make a difference in your longevity. Those with the best diets reduced their risk of death by up to 25% over a 10-year follow-up, said study author Ashima Kant, a professor of nutrition at Queens College of the City University of New York.

Kant and her colleagues extracted information from a National Institutes of Health/AARP database, including more than 350,000 men and women, evaluating the link between dietary habits and their risk of death during the follow-up period. They divided the participants into five groups, depending on how closely they followed the 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

"If you had the highest fifth of these scores, your risk of dying over the follow-up period was 20–25% lower," Kant said. She found gender differences, with women eating the healthiest reducing their risk of death by 25% and men reducing it by 20%.

"We have been advocating these kinds of behaviors for a while," she said. Other studies have found a survival benefit but have tended to look only at individual foods, she said. "This gets at looking at all these dietary features in a collective way," she said.