According to The American Journal of Epidemiology (edition 173: 319-329) which cited a Harvard University study of 50,000 people, these factors increase the risk of early mortality:
- Personal history of diabetes
- High Blood Pressure (140/90 or higher)
- Diet high in cholesterol (animal products)
- Being overweight at age 18
- Eating foods with high glycemic load (white bread, white rice, soft drinks, French fries, refined grains and sweets)
- Family history of early heart disease (before age 60 in parents or siblings)
- Heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages
These factors decrease the risk of early mortality:
- Eating cereal fiber including whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, etc. Aim for 3 to 4 servings of whole grains daily.
- Eating nuts. Eat an ounce of nuts most days.
- Getting regular physical activity – at least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 or more days per week.
- Including polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Best choices: soy and soy foods, sunflower, olive, canola and corn oils, as well as walnuts, almonds, avocado, flax meal, and hazelnuts.
According to the article, the above 12 risk factors all exert an independent effect on health and mortality. But, when taken together, they have profound effect on your health. In the study, those who did not follow the good health practices above were six times more likely to die from cancer, 12 times more likely to die early from any cause, and 24 times more likely to die early from cardiovascular disease.
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