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The Link Between Diet and Longevity

How many more years would you like to live?

Older man with bag of produce to show link between diet and longevity

A modeling study of the link between diet and longevity in PLOS Medicine suggested that if men and women changed their diet at age 20 to include more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains and less red and processed meat and ultraprocessed foods (similar to the Mediterranean eating pattern and dissimilar to the typical Western diet), they could increase their lifespan by 13 and 10.7 years, respectively. The largest gains in longevity from diet were found from eating more legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils.

And it’s never too late to start on the path to eating better. Women and men who start following a more healthful diet at age 60 might add 8 or 9 years of life, respectively, according to the PLOS report, which uses data from the 2019 Global Burden of Disease study. A plant-predominant eating style could even benefit 80-year-olds: Men and women at this age could gain about 3.5 years of extra life from dietary changes.

See also: Nutrition for Longevity

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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