How and what you eat determines in part how long you will live and whether you will die from a fatal heart attack, a stroke or cancer, report nutritionists from the University of Isfahan in Iran in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. The Iranians gathered data from thirteen epidemiological studies and re-analysed them.
The studies that the Iranians examined had used the Healthy Eating Index and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index to assess the quality of the diet. The big similarity between the two approaches is that they both attach high priority to a high intake of fruit, vegetables and plant-based proteins.
Healthy eating reduces mortality risk, the researchers discovered. It made little difference whether the studies used the Healthy Eating Index or the Alternative Healthy Eating Index to determine the quality of the diet: a healthy diet reduces all-cause mortality by 22-23 percent.
A healthy diet reduces first and foremost the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease [by 21-26 percent], and secondly the risk of dying from cancer [by 15-20 percent].
If your main aim is to avoid fatal cardiovascular disease you may be best off concentrating on the Alternative Healthy Eating Index. You can read more about the Alternative Healthy Eating Index here and here. If you are looking for lifestyle ways of preventing fatal forms of cancer then according to the Iranian analysis the Healthy Eating Index is of greater interest.
“The present meta-analysis shows that high adherence to the Healthy Eating Index and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index dietary patterns, as high diet quality indices, are associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality – as well as cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality,” the researchers write.
Adherence to the Healthy Eating Index and Alternative Healthy Eating Index dietary patterns and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies
This meta-analysis investigated the association of diet quality indices, as assessed by HEI and AHEI, and the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality.
We used PubMed, ISI Web of Science and Google Scholar to search for eligible articles published before July 2015. A total of 12 cohort studies (38 reports) and one cross-sectional study (three reports) met the inclusion criteria and were included in our meta-analysis.
The highest level of adherence to the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) and Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) was significantly associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality [relative risk (RR) = 0.77, 95% confidence intterval (CI) = 0.76–0.78], cardiovascular mortality (RR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.74–0.80) and cancer mortality (RR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.81–0.86). Egger regression tests provided no evidence of publication bias.
The present study indicates that high adherence to HEI and AHEI dietary patterns, indicating high diet quality, are associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality (as well as cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality).