Healthier eating saves lives.
Over 1 million early deaths in the United States were prevented by better eating habits over the course of 13 years, according to new research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Improved diet also accounted for roughly 12 percent fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, around 8 percent fewer cardiovascular incidents, and about 1 percent fewer cases of cancer during that time.
PHOTOS: How the American Diet Has Changed
And "healthier" didn't even involve that much: Very small improvements in diet made a difference in reducing the risk of preventable disease and premature death, noted the team.
That said, Americans have a long way to go when it comes to eating better.
Between 1999 and 2012, when researchers gathered the data, U.S. adults ate better than they did in previous years, but only fractionally. Using a point system to rank healthy eating from 0 to 110 - with 110 as the healthiest - none of the participants' scores broke 50.
Can You Be Overweight and Malnourished?