Is there anything more satisfying than chowing down on a perfectly crispy-on-the-outside-but-gooey-on-the-inside ham and cheese toastie? The answer here is usually a resounding no. But just in case you need a little more convincing, here’s another reason to dish one up: it could help you live longer.
Researchers from McMaster University in Canada looked at data from over 218,000 adults across more than 50 countries around the world and divided them into five categories according to their eating habits.
By adopting a balanced diet (aka, one that includes a moderate amount of dairy and meat and limited processed foods like refined carbs) you can reduce your chance of premature death by up to 25 per cent and a fatal heart attack by 22 per cent.
“People who consumed a diet emphasising fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, dairy products and meat had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease and early death,” explained Andrew Mente, principal investigator at the university’s Population Health Research Institute.
This goes against the current dietary guidelines, which advises that people who consume more than 90g of red or processed meat daily should cut this back to 70g at most. Previous studies show that too much beef, pork and veal can increase the risk of developing bowel cancer.
“Thinking on what constitutes a high-quality diet for a global population needs to be reconsidered,” Mente added. “For example, our results show that dairy products and meat are beneficial for heart health and longevity.”
That said, Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation stresses that moderation should still be key:
“Eating well means looking at your diet as a whole, rather than focusing too much on individual elements,” he said.
“Meat and dairy can contribute to a healthy, balanced diet as long as they’re eaten in moderation along with plenty of fruits and vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and nuts.”
Toasties all round, eh!?
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.