Researchers estimated how life expectancy (LE) changes with sustained changes in the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, refined grains, nuts, legumes, fish, eggs, milk/dairy, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

An optimal diet had substantially higher intake than a typical diet of whole grains, legumes, fish, fruits, vegetables, and included a handful of nuts, while reducing red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and refined grains.

A sustained change from a typical Western diet to the optimal die:

  1. from age 20 years would increase life expectancy by:
    • more than a 10 years for women,
    • 13 years for men.
  2. from age 60 years would increase life expectancy by:
    • 8 years for women,
    • 8.8 years for men.
  3. 80-year-olds would gain about 3.4 years.

The largest gains would be made by eating more

  • legumes (more than 2 years),
  • whole grains (about 2 years),
  • nuts (1.7 years).

And less

  • red meat (females: 1.6, males: 1.9),
  • processed meat (females: 1.6, males: 1.9).


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