A new study pointed out how foods can extend or shorten life. The authors described a health nutritional index, which tells whether a food item prolongs life or shortens it. A hot dog for example can take 36 minutes off your life expectancy. On the other hand, a helping of walnuts adds 25 minutes to your life expectancy. The hot dog contains processed meat and salt, which increases your risk for heart attacks and diabetes. Walnuts, however, are full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
More details about the health nutritional index
Two of the three original authors, Katerina Stylianou and Olivier Jolliet summarized their study from nature in this CNN article. They pointed out that your life can be significantly prolonged by paying attention to the quality of food and making relatively small changes. When you eat more vegetables, nuts and fish you are adding life every day you eat this way. These are healthy minutes and hours of life gained. You are decreasing your probability of disease. The downside is that with any meal that you consume, which includes junk food, processed meats, carbonated sugary drinks there is a loss of healthy minutes and hours. This type of food causes hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and strokes.
Healthy foods and unhealthy foods
The health nutrition index points out that fruit, nuts and seeds, milk products, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and fiber are adding life. On the other hand, red meat, processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fatty acids and sodium lead to losses of life.
Minimal changes of foods can extend or shorten life
The article in Nature cited in the beginning of this review explains how you can determine what changes to make to your food intake. Small items like cutting out hot dogs and other processed meats and not eating as much beef and pork can prolong your life down the road. Instead, you can eat more fish and poultry. As already indicated, it helps also, if you increase the consumption of vegetables. An example is, if you eat a serving of sardines with tomato sauce, you can gain up to 82 minutes.
We do know that there are healthy and not so healthy foods. The health nutritional index gives us a measure of health by looking at minutes of healthy life gained. But we also see what unhealthy foods do in terms of losses of healthy life with every meal. The more we are reading about this and learn what healthy foods are and what to avoid, the more we can gradually adjust our eating habits. It is gradual process over the years. But it pays rich dividends in terms of preserving health and increasing our longevity.