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Eating fruits and vegetables linked to healthier arteries later in life
Date:3/28/2014

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2014) Women who ate a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables as young adults were much less likely to have plaque build-up in their arteries 20 years later compared with those who consumed lower amounts of these foods, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session. This new finding reinforces the importance of developing healthy eating habits early in life.

Previous studies have found that middle-aged adults whose diet consists of a high proportion of fruits and vegetables are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, but the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption during young adulthood and heart disease later in life was less clear. To study this concept, researchers evaluated the association between dietary intake of fruits and vegetables in young adults and the presence of coronary artery calcification (CAC) 20 years later. CAC scores, which were obtained using a CT scan, provide a direct estimate of the amount of plaque in the coronary arteries.

"It's an important question because lifestyle behaviors, such as a heart healthy diet, are the foundation of cardiovascular prevention and we need to know what dietary components are most important," said Michael D. Miedema, M.D., M.P.H., a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, and the lead investigator of the study.

Specifically, women who reported consuming the most fruits and vegetables (eight to nine servings a day for a 2,000-calorie diet) in their 20s were 40 percent less likely to have calcified plaque in their arteries in their 40s compared with those who ate the least amount (three to four servings a day) during the same time period. This association persisted even after researchers accounted for other lifestyle behaviors, as well as for their current-day diets, further demonstrating the role dietary patterns at younger ages may play.

"These findings confirm the
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Contact: Beth Casteel
bcasteel@acc.org
202-375-6275
American College of Cardiology
Source:Eurekalert

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