While we know that processed, fatty foods can increase our risk of premature death, there are foods that can help lower our risk of premature death:
1. Fruits & Vegetables
A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health took it a step further after showing that people who eat seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day can cut their risk of overall death by half. A University of Liverpool research team surveyed 4,400 people in the U.K., who on average, consumed under four portions of fruits and veggies the day before completely the survey. The participants who ate seven or more servings per day lowered their risk for death from all causes, including heart attack, stroke, and cancer, by 42%. Even if you consume 2-3 servings of fruits and veggies per day could lower your risk of premature death by 19%.
2. Foods Rich in Fiber
Researchers from the Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a survey that found that heart attack survivors who eat the recommended amount of fiber lower their risk of premature death by 25%. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Another study conducted by the Harvard Public School of Health found that consuming a healthy amount of cereal fiber can lower your risk from cancer by 15% and diabetes by 34%. That's whole grain cereals only.
Tree nuts, including cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and legumes like peanuts often have a lower risk for overall death. Moderation is key since nuts are 80% healthy fat, the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than four servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts per week.
4. Potassium-Rich Foods
Foods high in potassium like bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, and pinto beans, help to regulate electrolytes, nerve function, muscle control, and blood pressure. According to an American Heart Association study, menopausal women who eat greater amounts of potassium-rich foods lower their risk for ischemic stroke or death by 16%. When a women enters menopause, her risk of stroke doubles in the next 10 years.
More and more, people are turning to tea instead of coffee for their morning pick-me-up. There's good reason too. Research presented at the 2014 European Society of Cardiology Congress (ESC) in Barcelona, Spain showed that drinking at least a cup of tea per day can lower a person's risk for premature death by 24%, even for former smokers. All types of tea are packed with antioxidants, a molecule found in certain foods that prevent damage caused by free radicals, and polyphenols, a micronutrient food that can aid in the prevention of degenerative diseases.