The daily meal plan shown to reduce your risk of death from cancer and heart disease

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Cancer and heart disease are always tussling for the top spot in a grim competition: the leading causes of death globally. The statistics make for gloomy reading but there are some bright spots. To varying degrees, you can modify your risk of both by adhering to a specific meal plan.

That’s the conclusion of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA).

Researchers sought to examine the association between consumption time of different foods and cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all‐cause mortalities.

For the study, researchers pooled and analysed data on 21,503 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Since 1999, NHANES has been obtaining information on health and nutritional status of the non-institutionalised civilian population in the United States.

Meal patterns and snack patterns throughout a whole day were measured using 24‐hour dietary recall.

Researchers evaluated the association between dietary patterns across meals and cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and all‐cause mortalities.

For the main meals, Western breakfast, starchy breakfast, and fruit breakfast were identified as main dietary patterns at breakfast; Western lunch, vegetable lunch, and fruit lunch were identified as main dietary patterns at lunch; Western dinner, vegetable dinner, and fruit dinner were identified as main dietary patterns at dinner.

For the snacks, grain snack, starchy snack, fruit snack, and dairy snack were identified as main snack patterns after main meals.

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During the follow‐up, 2,192 deaths including 676 deaths because of CVD and 476 because of cancer were documented.

What did the researchers find out?

After adjusting for potential confounders, participants consuming fruit‐lunch had lower mortality risks of all‐cause.

Whereas participants who consumed Western‐lunch were more likely to die because of CVD.

Participants who consumed vegetables‐dinner had lower mortality risks of all‐cause, CVD, and cancer.

For the snack patterns, participants who consumed fruit‐snack after breakfast had lower mortality risks of all‐cause and cancer, and participants who consumed dairy‐snack after dinner had lower risks of all‐cause and CVD mortalities.

Conversely, participants who consumed a starchy‐snack after main meals had greater mortality risks of all‐cause and CVD.

The researchers concluded: “Fruit‐snack after breakfast, fruit‐lunch, vegetable‐dinner, and dairy‐snack after dinner was associated with lower mortality risks of CVD, cancer, and all‐cause; whereas Western‐lunch and starchy‐snack after main meals had greater CVD and all‐cause mortalities.”

In addition to eating well, you should also engage in regular exercise.

The NHS says it can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer and lower your risk of early death by up to 30 percent.

Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems obvious that you should be physically active.

It’s essential to living a healthy and fulfilling life into old age.

To stay healthy, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines, on GOV.UK, state that adults should try to be active every day and aim to do at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week, through a variety of activities.

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