The results of a recent Harvard University study that found women who ate the largest amounts of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains may outlive those who follow a more typical “Western” diet aren’t particularly surprising. But the study’s findings provide an additional reason to pack healthy lunches and put more fruits and vegetables on our plates at dinner.
The study of more than 72,000 U.S. women found that those who ate the largest amount of these healthy foods were 17 per cent less likely to die over 18 years than those who ate the smallest amount. In particular, such "prudent" eaters were 28 per cent less likely to die of heart disease or stroke. The study defined a prudent diet as one rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish and poultry.
In contrast, a highly "Western" eating pattern was one that featured plenty of red and processed meat, sweet foods, French fries and refined grains like white bread. Women who ate these foods were 21 per cent more likely to die during the study period than those who avoided them.
The findings offer yet more incentive to adopt a healthier diet, the researchers report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. It also means focusing not on individual foods or particular vitamins and minerals, but on overall eating patterns.
Have you changed the amount of healthy foods you eat each day? What’s the most difficult food to add or eat in the right amount?