Healthy Diet Protects Against Disease

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According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association a healthy diet helps protect women against disease.

Researchers from Queens College in New York assessed dietary intake information gathered from more than 42,000 female participants in a large US study.

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They assigned each woman a “Recommended Food Score” based on the variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, lean meats and poultry, and low-fat dairy foods in her diet. The researchers found that over a five-year period the women who consumed a greater variety of these foods (as reflected by higher diet scores) were 30% less likely than those with less diverse diets to die from cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

The researchers point out that the women in the study with the highest diet scores were following the US Dietary Guidelines, government recommendations that outline diet changes that everyone can make to reduce their risk of disease. Acknowledging the link between diet and health, the guidelines advise consumers to select a varied diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods, and control their intake of saturated fat and cholesterol by choosing low-fat dairy foods and leaner cuts of meat whenever possible.

The authors of this study admit that there is no “one answer” as to why diet made such a difference. But, by choosing a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods, the women with the highest diet scores consumed the most fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, and beta-carotene and a lower percentage of calories from fat. They were also less likely to smoke and more likely than women with lower scores to exercise regularly. Any or all of these diet and lifestyle factors may have worked together to keep these women healthy.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association.

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