What Women Should Eat to Live Longer

What Women Should Eat to Live Longer
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A competing risks analysis of the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study compares the danger of smoking cigarettes to the danger of animal product consumption (cholesterol), and the benefits of plant foods (fiber) to the benefits of exercise.

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The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, involving more than 100,000 women, was started in 1976. And so, as you can imagine, it is now the most definitive long-term study ever on older women’s health. Since the study started, thousands of participants died. And now, thanks to all that hard work, 35 years later, they published the “Risk Factors for Mortality,” and because it was a so-called competing risks analysis, it allows one to compare different risks to one another.

The number one single cause of death? Heart disease, and so, no surprise that dietary cholesterol consumption was a significant risk factor for death. The second leading cause of death was smoking-related cancer deaths. Comparing the two, consuming the amount of cholesterol found in just a single egg a day appears to cut a woman’s life short as much as smoking five cigarettes a day, for 15 years.

The most protective behavior they found was fiber consumption. Eating just a cup of oatmeal’s worth of fiber a day appears to extend a woman’s life as much as four hours of jogging a week, but of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both.

The one specific food most tied to longevity was nuts. You appear to also get four hours of weekly jogging benefit eating just two handfuls of nuts a week, as well.

Taking a step back, though, it’s worth noting that the intake of cholesterol, only found in animal foods, was associated with living a shorter life, and the intake of fiber, only found in plant foods, was associated with living a longer life.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Geierunited, Mike Baird via flickr, and Nillerdk via Wikimedia Commons.

The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, involving more than 100,000 women, was started in 1976. And so, as you can imagine, it is now the most definitive long-term study ever on older women’s health. Since the study started, thousands of participants died. And now, thanks to all that hard work, 35 years later, they published the “Risk Factors for Mortality,” and because it was a so-called competing risks analysis, it allows one to compare different risks to one another.

The number one single cause of death? Heart disease, and so, no surprise that dietary cholesterol consumption was a significant risk factor for death. The second leading cause of death was smoking-related cancer deaths. Comparing the two, consuming the amount of cholesterol found in just a single egg a day appears to cut a woman’s life short as much as smoking five cigarettes a day, for 15 years.

The most protective behavior they found was fiber consumption. Eating just a cup of oatmeal’s worth of fiber a day appears to extend a woman’s life as much as four hours of jogging a week, but of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both.

The one specific food most tied to longevity was nuts. You appear to also get four hours of weekly jogging benefit eating just two handfuls of nuts a week, as well.

Taking a step back, though, it’s worth noting that the intake of cholesterol, only found in animal foods, was associated with living a shorter life, and the intake of fiber, only found in plant foods, was associated with living a longer life.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Geierunited, Mike Baird via flickr, and Nillerdk via Wikimedia Commons.

Nota del Doctor

Similar comparisons have been made between the risk of smoking and eating processed meat (see Prevention Is Better Than Cured Meat), and cell phone use and processed meat (see Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer? and Hot Dogs & Leukemia). Though healthy eating may help mediate the devastating effects of smoking (see Smoking Versus Kale JuicePreventing COPD With Diet; and Treating COPD With Diet), if you do smoke, please stop. As a physician, I’ve just seen too many good people die horrible deaths from cigarettes. Here at NutritionFacts.org, check out my videos on nuts; my videos on exercise; my videos on fiber; and my videos on oats.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer RiskEating To Extend Our LifespanThe True Shelf Life of Cooking OilsCholesterol Lowering in a Nut ShellNuts Don’t Cause Expected Weight GainTop 10 Most Popular Videos of the YearBoosting Gut Flora Without ProbioticsTreadmill Desks: Stand Up For HealthPlant-Based Diets for Metabolic SyndromeGo Nuts for Breast Cancer Prevention; and Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Diet.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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