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People who ate large amounts of fruit and veg in their early 20s were found to be a quarter less likely to have blocked or restricted arteries in their 40s, according to a new study by Minneapolis Heart Institute.

Partially blocked arteries are potentially life threatening, because they restrict blood flow and this can damage organs and stop them functioning properly. If the plaques that block the arteries rupture this can trigger heart attack or stroke.

Senior consulting cardiologist Dr Michael 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.’

But hang on, what if I’m not a young adult anymore, does that mean I’m doomed?

I think the point here is that the sooner you start looking after your health and eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits the better.

Dr Miedema added, ‘Our findings support public health initiatives aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable intake as part of a healthy dietary pattern.’

Fruit and vegetable intake is likely a marker for a life-long healthy diet and lifestyle, said Alice H. Lichtenstein of Tufts University in Boston, who wrote an editorial accompanying the new results.

‘The data suggest dietary patterns higher in fruits and vegetables may be protective with respect to cardiovascular disease,’ she told Reuters Health.

How many vegetables and fruits are you consuming each day? Remember juicing is great way to increase your intake and go beyond the minimum 5-a-day.

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