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The key to a longer life may be on your plate

Woman in the produce department of a grocery store with a shopping basket and a grocery list.

April 30, 2019—One in every five deaths globally is the result of poor diet. That's according to new research by more than 130 scientists around the world.

The study, published in The Lancet, looked at the effects of diet on long-term health conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and kidney disease.

The results were clear. Unhealthy eating contributes to more deaths worldwide than any other health risk, including tobacco or high blood pressure. The largest number of deaths were related to eating too much sodium and not enough fruits or grains.

The study estimated that poor diet accounted for 10.9 million deaths worldwide in 2017. By comparison, high blood pressure was linked to 10.4 million deaths. And tobacco was related to 8 million deaths.

Out of 195 countries, the U.S. had the 43rd lowest rate of diet-related deaths.

How to improve what you eat

According to the study's authors, people in almost every country could benefit from rebalancing their diet to include more healthy foods.

They recommend eating:

  • More whole grains.
  • More fruits and vegetables.
  • More nuts and seeds.
  • Fewer sugary drinks.
  • Fewer trans fats.
  • Less sodium.
  • Less red meat and processed meat.

Wondering where to start? Learn about hidden sources of sodium in your diet.

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