Image: © Jonathan Ross/Thinkstock
If you haven't been good about eating a healthy diet, take heart: A Harvard study published July 13, 2017, in The New England Journal of Medicine found that changing to one of three scientifically developed healthy eating programs was associated with longer life. The healthy diets included the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Mediterranean Diet, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Scientists looked at self-reported diet and health data from nearly 74,000 healthy men and women who significantly improved their diets and maintained them for 12 years. Scientists then looked at participants' risk of death for another 12 years. The results: people who improved their diet the most were up to 17% less likely to die, whereas those whose diets worsened the most were up to 14% more likely to die. This study strongly indicates that improving your diet, even if you start in middle age, can add years to your life — and vice versa. If you're re-evaluating your diet, check out the Harvard Special Health Report Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart (www.health.harvard.edu/HEHH).
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.