A Harvard Medical School study found that how well women age in their 70s is linked to the way they ate earlier in life. Researchers started with 10,670 healthy women in their late 50s and followed them for 15 years. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the results saw fewer chronic diseases among women that followed diets heavy in plant-based foods during midlife; these women were also 34 percent more likely to live past 70. Those that ate most similarly to the Mediterranean diet had even better outcomes—a 46 percent greater likelihood of living past 70 without chronic diseases.
Eleven percent of the subjects qualified as healthy agers, which researchers defined as having no major chronic diseases, physical impairments, mental health problems or trouble with thinking and memory. According to lead author Cecilia Samieri, Ph.D., midlife exposures are thought to be a particularly relevant period, because most health conditions develop slowly over many years.