Eating Fruits & Vegetables As Young Adults Provides Protection For Heart Decades Later

The consumption of fruits and vegetables apparently has long-term beneficial effects. A new research published in the journal Circulation suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables in one’s young adult years is linked with a lower risk of having calcified coronary artery plaque 2 decades later.

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The scientists studied data obtained from 2,506 participants gleaned for the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study that started in 1985. The participants went through a CT scan 2 decades later to check for the accumulation of calcium on the heart artery walls; the build-up of calcium is associated with a risk for heart attacks and other coronary heart diseases.

The participants were categorised into 3 groups as per their daily intake of fruits and vegetables; the servings thereof were based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

Women falling in the top group had an average of almost 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, while the men had 7. Women in the bottom third had a mean of 3.3 daily servings and men 2.6.

The results show that those eating the most fruit and vegetable at the start of the study had a 26 % lower risk of having calcified plaque 20 years later as opposed to those who had the least of the two types of foods.

This is the first time researchers have examined the potential links between the consumption of fruits and vegetables as young adults and a measurable improvement in the health of the heart and blood vessels over the long run.

“People shouldn’t assume that they can wait until they’re older to eat healthy – our study suggests that what you eat as a young adult may be as important as what you eat as an older adult,” says the lead author of the study, Michael D. Miedema, M.D., senior consulting cardiologist and clinical investigator at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Our findings support public health initiatives aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable intake as part of a healthy dietary pattern,” adds Miedema. “Further research is needed to determine what other foods impact cardiovascular health in young adults.”

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