Eating Well

Healthful Diet Keeps Women Young, Men Less So

A healthful diet, meaning a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in added sugar, sodium and processed meats, appears to keep women young at the cellular level, according to research conducted at the University of Michigan. A U of Michigan news release reports that researchers at the school judged cellular aging by measuring the length of telomeres, DNA-protein structures on the ends of chromosomes that promote stability and protect DNA. Age is the strongest predictor of telomere length—telomeres shorten in length during each cell cycle. When the researchers examined the diets of nearly 5,000 healthy adults, based on how well they scored on four evidence-based diet quality indices: the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and two commonly used measures of diet quality developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, they found that women with higher scores on each of the indices (meaning healthful diets) had longer telomeres. And men? Men with healthful diets also appeared to have longer telomeres, but the differences is length were not statistically significant. The researchers also found that men in general tended to have worse diets, with higher intakes of sugary beverages and processed meats, both of which have been associated with shorter telomeres.


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