Many of us grew up eating fried and processed foods, dairy products, and rich desserts. While such foods evoke nostalgia, they won’t fuel our bodies for a healthy old age.
A new study of more than 5,000 British civil servants found that those who ate the most
fried and sweet food, processed and red meat, white bread, butter, and cream doubled their
risk of premature death or poor health in old age.
Researchers characterized the Western diet as one consisting of fried food, processed food, red meat, pies, sweetened desserts, chocolates, refined grains, high-fat dairy products, and condiments.
The study included nearly 3,800 men and 1,600 women in Britain, with an average age of 51, who were followed from 1985 to 2009. By the end of that time, 73 percent of the participants had experienced normal aging and 4 percent had undergone ideal aging,
which is defined as free of chronic conditions with high scores on tests of physical and mental abilities.
During the follow-up period, 13 percent of the participants had a nonfatal cardiovascular event, 3 percent died from heart-related causes and 7 percent died from other causes. The researchers concluded that those who ate a Western diet were less likely to have a healthy old age.
Even if you grew up eating the Western-style diet, this research adds to the evidence that a plant-based or Mediterranean diet that features whole, organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, like olive oil, is the way to go. Remember, it’s never too late to change.
Posts by Chauncey Crandall, M.D.
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