What are the healthiest diets for longevity?

According to a new study, there are many different healthy eating patterns that can help you live longer — as long as those eating habits focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.

For the study, Harvard University researchers looked at data from more than 75,000 women and more than 44,000 men who had completed a series of nutritional questionnaires over a 36-year period, beginning in their early fifties. None of the participants had a history of cancer or heart disease.

Scientists rated their diets based on how closely they followed one of four different eating habits, including a plant-based diet and the Mediterranean diet. The other two diets were the Healthy Eating Index, which follows the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, developed by Harvard, which considers how our diets are related to the risk of chronic disease.

People who most closely followed one of these healthy eating patterns were up to 20 percent less likely to die from all causes during the study, and were also much less likely to die from typical causes such as cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease, the researchers reported Jan. 9 in JAMA Internal Medicine. Individuals from all racial and ethnic groups in the study were less likely to die prematurely when following any of these healthy eating patterns.

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