Here’s more incentive to eat a healthy diet: it’s associated with a reduced risk of developing COVID-19 and its serious complications, according to a study published online Sept. 6, 2021, by the journal Gut. Researchers asked about 593,000 adults (mostly middle-aged and older) what they ate in February 2020, and then followed their health through September. Scientists found that people who reported eating the most fruits, vegetables, and legumes had a 9% lower risk of getting COVID and a 41% lower risk of developing severe COVID during the study period, compared with people who reported eating the least fruits and vegetables. Researchers also found a link between COVID and a poor diet or socioeconomic disadvantages. “If you could remove just one of those factors — diet or disadvantage — we think nearly a third of the COVID-19 cases could have been prevented,” notes Jordi Merino, the study’s lead author and a research associate at the Diabetes Unit and Center for Genomic Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. The study was observational and doesn’t prove conclusively that a healthy diet prevents COVID. Researchers point out that getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in indoor settings are still the most important approaches to ward off the disease.