FRUITS & VEGGIES BOOST WOMEN’S CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

Previous studies have reported 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.  Michael D. Miedema, from the Minneapolis Heart Institute (Minnesota, USA), and colleagues studied the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption during young adulthood and heart disease later in life.  The study included 2,508 participants from the ongoing Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which is evaluating how heart disease develops throughout adulthood.   Among these subjects, the team assessed the association between dietary intake of fruits and vegetables 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.  The data revealed that 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% less likely to have calcified plaque in their arteries in their 40s. as 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.   The lead author submits that:  “These findings confirm the concept that plaque development is a lifelong process, and that process can be slowed down with a healthy diet at a young age.  This is often when dietary habits are established, so there is value in knowing how the choices we make in early life have lifelong benefits.”

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