Focusing on a healthier diet could also lengthen the lives of older adults, the study said. By starting at age 60, a woman could still increase her lifespan by eight years. Men starting a healthier diet at age 60 might add nearly nine years to their lives.
A plant-based eating style could even benefit 80-year-olds, the study said: Men and women could gain about 3.5 years of extra life from dietary changes.
A 2020 study which tracked more than 37,000 middle-aged Americans found those who ate the most plant protein were 27% less likely to die of any cause and 29% less likely to die of coronary heart disease than people who ate the least amount of plant protein.
“There’s substantial evidence that processed meat can cause bowel cancer — so much so that the World Health Organization has classified it as carcinogenic since 2015,” Oxford University epidemiologist Tim Key, a member of the UK Department of Health’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, told CNN in a prior interview.
The CDC study found that only 12% of adults consume 1½ to 2 cups of fruit each day, which is the amount recommended by the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Only 10% of Americans eat the recommended 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day, including legumes.
About 50% of grain consumption should be whole grains, yet over 95% of Americans fail to meet that goal, according to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, instead eating processed grains, which have been milled to remove the grain, bran and many nutrients, including fiber.