EAT, according to its website, is “a global, non-profit startup dedicated to transforming our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships.” Part of that transformation includes the “EAT-Lancet diet,” designed by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, which “emphasizes a plant-forward diet where whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes comprise a greater proportion of foods consumed.” EAT goes on to note, “Meat and dairy constitute important parts of the diet but in significantly smaller proportions than whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.”
Recent research now indicates following the EAT-Lancet diet may lower one’s risk of death by as much as 25% (Am J Clin Nutr. 2021;, nqab369).
The study’s authors “sought to develop a new dietary index to quantify adherence to the EAT-Lancet diet and assess its association with mortality in a large, population-based Swedish cohort,” while also examining food components included in the index and their individual associations with mortality. To do so, the authors used the Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort (n = 22,421; 45–73 years old at baseline). According to the authors:
“Dietary data were collected using a modified diet history method. The EAT-Lancet index was developed based on intake levels and reference intervals of 14 food components defined in the EAT-Lancet diet (0–3 points per component; 0–42 points in total). Associations with mortality were examined based on registers during a mean of 20 years of follow-up and were adjusted for potential confounders.”
Data showed following the EAT-Lancet diet was linked to lower mortality, with the authors writing, “the highest adherence to the EAT-Lancet diet (≥23 points) was associated with lower all-cause mortality.” Cancer and cardiovascular mortalities were lower in the higher EAT-Lancet adherence group than in the lowest groups as well. Overall, the mortality risk in the highest-adherence group was 25% lower than in the lowest-adherence group, with “a clear linear trend.” A 25% reduction in premature deaths globally, the authors said, would represent a whopping 11 million fewer deaths annually.
On an individual food level, the authors noted higher consumption of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits and lower consumption of eggs—all associated with following the EAT-Lancet diet—were linked to lower mortality. Potato intake was also linked to higher mortality, though the authors noted more research would be required to establish a link. Seafood intake was generally linked to favorable outcomes, though the authors did note such intake may be at odds with sustainability practices, “depending on the type of fish consumed and the production methods used,” the authors wrote.
“Our findings show the value of providing a set of recommendations that reflects a dietary pattern and contribute to the evidence base to be used when developing sustainable dietary guidelines and policies,” the authors concluded.