According to recent research, childhood fruit and veggie intake greatly benefits the heart, even decades afterwards.
The study was conducted by experts at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, and the findings were published in the journal Circulation.
Experts reviewed data regarding 2,506 white and African-American people, aged 18 to 30, who had taken part in the national Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) survey, debuting in 1985.
The novelty of this analysis was that it focused on a younger population, unlike most dietary studies which usually investigate older subjects.
The participants were divided into 3 categories, according to the number of fruit and vegetable servings they had every day. These were calculated while having as a reference point a daily diet consisting in 2,000 calories.
Normally, guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend around 4 vegetable servings and 3 fruit servings, on any given day.
It was determined that female subjects in the top third group consumed almost 9 such servings on a daily basis, while male subjects averaged little more than 7 such portions.
On the other hand, women and men in the bottom third group relative to fruit and veggie consumption reported to have had 3.3 and 2.6 servings, respectively.
Researchers correlated these results with CT heart scans carried out on these participants 20 years afterwards. These medical investigations serve as an effective way of measuring the amount of calcium in the walls of coronary arteries.
Having such buildups causes dangerous narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), making people more at risk of heart attack and early death.
It was determined that those who had prefer to eat more fruit and vegetables during their youth were more likely to experience good cardiovascular health the following decades.
Overall, they had a 26% lower likelihood of developing calcium deposits in their arteries, compared to those who had eaten less than 5 such servings of veggies and fruit.
These beneficial effects on the heart were prolonged into middle age as well, diminishing the risks of cardiac arrest and heart failure.
As researchers have noted, this impact was more significant especially among women, which might be due to the fact that around 60% of the subjects included in this study were female.
Fruits and veggies consumed during early adulthood might yield benefits for such a long period of time because they reduce blood pressure levels, bring a slew of antioxidants into the body, and improve the individual’s lipid profile.
On the other hand, it might be that people who consume more fruit and vegetables simply eat less of other more harmful products, or have different kinds of lifestyles, which make them less susceptible to developing heart disease.
Given these uncertainties, study authors wish to conduct further research, and investigate the exact mechanisms which allow these healthy food items to have such a detectable impact on the concentration of plaque in the arteries.
Also, researchers insist that combining fruit and vegetables with dangerous levels of refined carbohydrates and animal fats will not yield the expected protective effects. Instead, a balanced diet low in fat and sugar should be preferred, consisting exclusively of health-conscious choices.
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