Nutritional Value Adds Up

The USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans isn't always easy to follow. The good news is that doing your best can make a big difference later in life. An analysis of the dietary habits of 350,000 men and women compiled in a National Institutes for Health database and published in the Journal of Nutrition found that making an effort to meet these recommendations can reduce your risk of death by as much as 25%.

Study participants were asked about 6 components of their diet. This included questions about their intake of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean meats and fat. The results were broken down into 5 groups, with the top level adhering most closely to the USDA's guidelines. Men in that group had a 20% reduced risk of death, while the women reduced their risk by 25%.

The Bigger Picture: The take-home message from this study is that people didn't have to eat flawlessly every single day to be placed in the top group of clean eaters. Even those landing in the second tier group realized reduced risks (17% for men and 20% for women). So don't stress out about that occasional cheat meal or night on the town. It's your long-term commitment to healthy living that makes the difference.
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