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Eating fruit and vegetables in early adulthood reduces the risk of heart problems in later life

4 November 2015

‘Don’t wait till later in life to eat healthily’ is the message being reported from a study carried out by doctors and dieticians in the US. The research, recently published in the journal Circulation, has uncovered that young adults who eat the most servings of fruit and vegetables a day are 26% less likely to develop coronary artery calcium (CAC), a powerful marker for cardiovascular disease.

During the 20 year study, more than 2,500 young adult participants recorded their diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol intake. CAC levels were estimated at year 20 using CT scanning. The group were split into three sub groups depending on their fruit and vegetable intake; the highest intake averaging at nearly 9 servings for women and just over 7 servings for men, however it is thought that eating more than 5 servings a day would have a positive influence on CAC risk. The study made sure all other possible dietary factors were corrected for (e.g. intake of refined carbohydrates, salt and fat food) to ensure a definite relationship. The study is consistent with recent global analysis that suggests insufficient intake of healthy foods, as opposed to excess intake of unhealthy foods, is responsible for the larger burden of chronic disease. The results also reinforce the importance of promoting fruit and vegetable intake in childhood and adolescents through nutritional education.

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