Having three servings of fruits and vegetables a day significantly reduces risk for peripheral artery disease, based on a survey study of 3.7 million American adults.
Published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, this study looked at the association between fruit and vegetable consumption and risk for peripheral artery disease.
Peripheral artery disease, often referred to as PAD, is a condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs. PAD is similar to heart disease, as both conditions occur when arteries become narrowed or blocked. However, PAD affects blood flow in the legs, arms and head instead of the heart. Since both conditions have similar risk factors, experts wonder if diet also plays an important role in risk for PAD.
To learn more, researchers conducted a study that surveyed nearly 3.7 million U.S. adults on their health and lifestyle. The study also included a simple test called an ankle brachial index, which diagnoses PAD by measuring blood flow in the legs. This test showed that 6% of participants—nearly 234,000 adults—had PAD.
The average age of participants was 64 years; nearly two-thirds were female.
Overall, researchers found that fruit and vegetable consumption was extremely low among all participants. While current dietary guidelines recommend at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables daily, less than one-third of adults consumed at least three servings of fruits and vegetables a day. More than half of participants failed to consume at least three servings most days of the week, with 7% consuming three servings of fruits and vegetables less than once a month.
After analysis, researchers found that participants consuming at least three servings of fruits and vegetables a day were 18% less likely to have PAD than adults with the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption. Researchers also found that older, white women were most likely to have the highest fruit and vegetable consumption, while younger black men were least likely.
Findings highlight yet another benefit of a heart-healthy diet, as regular fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with significantly lower risk for PAD.
The study also highlights the staggering number of Americans who fail to meet current dietary guidelines. Fruits and vegetables are a key part of a heart-healthy diet, promoting a healthy weight, better health and reducing risk for many types of cancer and disease. By improving the American diet, experts hope to help millions reduce risk for PAD and heart disease, and promote better health.