Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Coronary Calcium Prevalence

Study Questions:

Is fruit and vegetable consumption during young adulthood associated with coronary atherosclerosis later in life?


Data from the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study were used for the present analysis. CARDIA includes a cohort of young, apparently healthy black and white participants enrolled between 1985 and 1986. Dietary factors were assessed using a semi-quantitative interview at baseline. Fruit and vegetable intake was grouped into tertile of total servings per day. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) was measured at year 20 (2005-2006).


A total of 2,506 participants were included; mean age at baseline was 25 years and 62.7% were women. Participants who reported higher intake of fruits and vegetables were more likely to be older, white, more educated, and nonsmokers. Higher tertile of fruit and vegetable intake was associated with lower prevalence of CAC (from odds ratio [95% confidence interval] = 1.00 [reference], 0.78 [0.59-1.02], and 0.74 [0.56-0.99], from the lowest to the highest tertile, p-value for trend < 0.001) after adjustment for demographic characteristics and other lifestyle variables. This association of fruits and vegetables and CAC was attenuated when adjustment for additional dietary factors was added to the model; however, the trend remained significant.


The authors concluded that higher intake of fruits and vegetables during young adulthood was associated with lower risk for CAC after 20 years of follow-up.


These data support the current recommendations for a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and reinforce the need for programs to promote healthy dietary patterns early in life.

Clinical Topics: Prevention, Atherosclerotic Disease (CAD/PAD), Diet

Keywords: Atherosclerosis, Calcium, Coronary Artery Disease, Diet, Food Habits, Fruit, Prevalence, Primary Prevention, Risk, Vegetables

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