22/12/2010 07:07 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Eating Healthily Really Can Help You Live Longer

You've probably read about how having an unhealthy diet could increase your risk for all sorts of serious illnesses from heart disease to cancer. So it would be natural to assume eating healthily would help you live longer, right?

Eat your greens if you want to live longer Eat your greens if you want to live longer. Photo: MorgueFile, jeltovski

That's exactly what researchers from the University of Maryland found in their study, which is being published in the Journal of the America Dietetic Association. In fact it's a great incentive to start eating more healthily now, since the study - which involved older people - suggests those who prefer healthy foods are 40% more likely to survive others who eat unhealthily over a 10-year period.

So eating your greens now may help you reap the benefits when you're older.

The researchers defined a healthy foods diet as one that comprises low-fat dairy foods, fruit, whole grains, poultry, fish and vegetables, with just a small amount of meat, fried foods, sweets, high-calorie drinks and added fat (and vice versa for an unhealthy foods diet).

The study analysed the eating patterns of more than 2,500 people over a 10-year period. The results, claims Amy Anderson, the study's lead author, suggest that adults who eat "relatively high amounts of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish may have a lower risk of mortality".

Eating healthily can be tricky, however, with many foods that claim to be healthy really having hidden high levels of salt, sugar and fat. So when it comes to diet, it pays to read the labels to make sure you really are taking the healthy option.

Are you going to attempt to eat healthily over the holiday season?

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