New research has suggested that eating fruit and vegetables are not just beneficial for a balanced diet and your short term health, but could also have a positive impact on your heart 20 years later. The research was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
They found that young adults who eat more fruits and vegetables were associated with less calcified coronary artery plaque 20 years later. Coronary artery calcium can be measured by a CT scan to detect the presence and amount of atherosclerosis, a disease that hardens arteries and is an underlying factor in many types of heart disease.
Using data from 2,506 participants and dividing them into three groups based on their fruit and vegetable consumption, the researchers found that those who ate the most fruit and vegetable at the study’s start had 26% lower odds of developing calcified plaque 20 years later, compared to those who ate the least.
While other studies have shown a strong association between eating more fruits and vegetables and reduction in heart disease in middle-aged adults, this is the first study to examine whether eating more fruits and vegetables as young adults could show a measurable improvement in the health of heart and blood vessels years later.
Lead author, Dr Michael D Miedema, said: “People shouldn’t assume that they can wait until they’re older to eat healthy – our study suggests that what you eat as a young adult may be as important as what you eat as an older adult.
“Our findings support public health initiatives aimed at increasing fruit and vegetables intake as part of a healthy dietary pattern. Further research is needed to determine what other foods impact cardiovascular health in young adults.”