Eating a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh foods, whole grains and lean meats helps us keep off excess weight, boosts our mood and our energy levels, and helps reduce our risk of developing chronic and age-related illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. And the foods you don't eat may also help you add years to your life, in particular when it comes to meat and processed foods. Let's look at red meat, for example.
Red meat consumption is linked to cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health together with AARP found that people who consumed about 2.2 ounces (62.4 grams) of red meat every day -- about the size of a deck of cards -- have a 30 percent greater chance of dying than those who ate only a small portion of red meat per day, about .3 ounces (8.5 grams), approximately the size of a matchbook [source: Froeber].