Background: Diet-quality indexes have been associated with a lower risk of chronic disease mortality in Western populations, but it is unclear whether these indexes reflect protective dietary patterns in Asian populations.
Objective: We examined the association between Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010), alternate Mediterranean diet (aMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and Healthy Diet Indicator (HDI) scores and the risk of all-cause cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and respiratory disease mortality.
Methods: We used data from a prospective cohort of 57,078 Singapore Chinese men and women (aged 45-74 y) who were free of cancer and CVD at baseline (1993-1998) and who were followed up through 2014. The diet-quality index scores were calculated on the basis of data from a validated 165-item food-frequency questionnaire. Cox regression models with adjustment for potential confounders including sociodemographic and lifestyle variables, body mass index, and medical history were used to estimate HRs and 95% CIs.
Results: During a total of 981,980 person-years of follow-up, 15,262 deaths (CVD: 4871; respiratory: 2690; and cancer: 5306) occurred. Comparing the highest with the lowest quintiles, the multivariable adjusted HRs (95% CIs) for all-cause mortality were 0.82 (0.78, 0.86) for AHEI-2010, 0.80 (0.76, 0.85) for aMED, 0.80 (0.75, 0.84) for DASH, and 0.88 (0.83, 0.92) for HDI scores (all P-trend < 0.001). Higher diet index scores were associated with a 14-28% lower risk of CVD and respiratory mortality, but only a 5-12% lower risk of cancer mortality. Higher consumption of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and long-chain n-3 (ω-3) fatty acids, lower consumption of red meat, and avoidance of high alcohol consumption were the diet index components associated with a lower risk of mortality.
Conclusion: Adherence to several recommended dietary patterns that emphasize healthy plant-based foods was associated with a substantially lower risk of chronic disease mortality in an Asian population. The Singapore Chinese Health Study was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03356340.