Americans live shorter lives than people in most other high-income countries. In a 2018 study, researchers tracked roughly 123,000 U.S. men and women for 30 years. Then they identified five “low-risk lifestyle factors”:

  • Never smoking
  • Normal body weight
  • More than 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise a day
  • Moderate alcohol intake
  • A healthy diet
  • A "healthy diet" was high in vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fats and low in red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium.

At age 50, someone with all five factors could expect to live 43 more years (women) or 38 more years (men). A 50-year-old with none of the factors could expect to live only 29 more years (women) or 26 more years (men).

What to do

Although this kind of study can’t prove cause and effect, shoot for a low-risk lifestyle to hedge your bets. Read our tips for eating a DASH-style diet and exercising regularly.

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