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Kids Who Eat Fruits, Veggies May Cut Heart Risk
Date:11/30/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Children who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may be able to help ward off atherosclerosis in adulthood, a precursor of heart disease, a new study suggests.

And a second new study found that children as young as 9 years old may already be exhibiting health problems such as high blood pressure that put them at risk of heart disease as adults.

Both reports, from researchers in Finland, are published in the Nov. 29 online edition of Circulation.

Commenting on the first study, Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, who was not involved with the study, noted that it had taken knowledge about diet and heart health a step further.

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque -- a sticky substance consisting of fat, cholesterol, and other substances found in the blood -- builds up inside the arteries, eventually narrowing and stiffening the arteries and leading to heart problems. It's a process that can take years, even decades, and this study shows that diet even in childhood -- helps prevent the condition, Katz said.

"We certainly, before this study, knew that vegetable and fruit intake were good for our health in general, and good for cardiovascular health in particular," he said.

For the first study, researchers led by Dr. Mika Kahonen, chief physician in the Department of Clinical Physiology at Tampere University Hospital in Finland, looked at lifestyle factors and measured the pulse of 1,622 people who took part in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. The participants ranged in age from 3 to 18 when the study began and were followed for 27 years.

The researchers also assessed "pulse wave velocity" -- a measure of arterial stiffness.

The researchers found that those young people who ate fewer vegetables and fruits had highe
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