Small Changes to Diet Can Make a Big Difference
New research suggests making small dietary changes may lead to a longer life. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, a 20 percent increase in diet-quality score was linked to an 8 to 17 percent reduction in risk of death from any cause over a 12-year period.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from about 48,000 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study, and about 26,000 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Participants completed a comprehensive diet questionnaire at the start of the study and then every four years for 12 years. Researcher compared the information to healthy eating plans recommended by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, the Alternative Mediterranean Diet, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension [DASH] diet) and calculated three diet-quality scores. Participants who maintained a high-quality diet lower risk of dying than those with consistently low diet-quality scores.
You can achieve a 20 percent increase in your diet-quality score by swapping out just one serving of meat per day—4 ounces of red meat or 1.5 ounces of processed meat—for one serving of nuts or legumes.