The elderly who follow a healthy diet may live longer than those who consume higher amounts of fat, sugar and unhealthy drinks, a new study suggests.
The study on 2,500 Americans aged between 70 and 79 showed that those who consume high amounts of fat are 40% more likely to die over 10 years compared with individuals who prefer healthy foods.
Participants were divided into six different groups including "healthy foods", "high-fat dairy products", "meat, fried foods and alcohol", "breakfast cereal", "refined grains," and "sweets and desserts" according to their regular habit.
The ten-year follow up showed that those in the high-fat dairy product group and the sweets and desserts consumers were 40 percent more likely to die during the study than those in the healthy food group, according to the results which will be published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
No significant differences were reported in the death rate among those adopting a healthy diet and the "breakfast cereal" or "refined grains" consumers.
"Some people have suggested in the past that it doesn't maybe matter too much what people eat at an older age…but our study, and previous studies, support the idea that that older adults can affect their health and longevity by following a dietary pattern that is high in healthy foods," said Amy Anderson from the University of Maryland.
The elderly who follow a diet relatively high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish are at a lower risk of mortality, she noted.