Eating fruits, veggies in youth tied to healthy heart decades later: study

October 28, 2015 5:45 am 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 — People who eat more fruits and vegetables in youth are more likely to have a healthy heart 20 years later, according to research published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Previous studies only showed a strong association between eating more fruits and vegetables and reduction in heart disease risk among middle-aged adults.

"People shouldn't assume that they can wait until they're older to eat healthy," lead author Michael Miedema, senior consulting cardiologist and clinical investigator at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, said in a statement.

"Our study suggests that what you eat as a young adult may be as important as what you eat as an older adult."

For the study, researchers used data from 2,506 adults, aged 18 to 30 years old, who took part in a U.S. government-funded heart health study of black and white young adults.

At the study's start in 1985, participants provided a detailed diet history, information on other lifestyle variables and cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, whether or not they smoked cigarettes, weight and others.

Twenty years later, participants underwent a CT scan to check for buildup of calcium on the walls of the arteries of the heart, which is calculated as a coronary artery calcium score. Higher coronary calcium scores are associated with a higher risk for heart attacks and other coronary heart disease events.

The participants were divided into three groups, based on their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Women in the top third ate an average of nearly nine servings of daily fruits and vegetables and men averaged more than seven daily servings.

In the bottom third, women consumed an average 3.3 daily servings and men 2.6 daily servings.

All servings were based on a 2,000-calories-a-day diet.

They found that people who ate the most fruit and vegetable at the study's start had 26 percent lower odds of developing calcified plaque in the coronary arteries 20 years later, compared to those who ate the least amount of fruits and vegetables.

"Our findings support public health initiatives aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable intake as part of a healthy dietary pattern," Miedema said. "Further research is needed to determine what other foods impact cardiovascular health in young adults." (PNA/Xinhua)

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