Better diets improved physical health
The Alternative Healthy Eating Index measures 11 food groups in the diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, omega-3s, alcohol, juice, sugar-sweetened drinks, red and processed meats, trans-fat, and sodium. Few studies have looked at diet quality and physical function. In this study, doctors followed 54,762 women for at least 20 years, comparing diets to physical function. Women who consumed the most fruits and vegetables, a moderate amount of alcohol, and lower levels of sugar-sweetened drinks, trans-fats, and sodium were most likely to maintain healthy physical function. The foods with the most benefit were oranges and orange juice, apples, pears, romaine and leaf-lettuce, and walnuts.

Each individual food was not as important to good physical health as was the overall diet pattern, with the healthier diets linked to better physical performance. Doctors said, “We think a lot about chronic diseases, cancer, and heart ailments, and tend not to think of physical function. But being able to dress yourself and walk around the block increases your ability to live independently longer.”

Reference: Journal of Nutrition; May, 2016, Published Online.
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