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Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of peripheral artery disease, according to a study of more than 3.6 million individuals in the U.S.

“We hope that studies like this can be an important reminder of the role we as consumers have on heart disease and stroke,” Dr. Jeffrey S. Berger from New York University School of Medicine told Reuters Health. “We often remember to take our medication, yet studies like this should remind us to eat our fruits and veggies every day. Moreover, we should continue reminding our young generation of this importance now before disease develops.”

Past research has linked fruit and vegetable consumption to a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, but there has been little research into the effects of fruits and vegetables on arteries in the legs and arms, Berger’s team writes in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, usually arises as a narrowing of arteries to the legs that causes cramping, pain or tiredness in the muscles while walking or climbing stairs. It affects at least 8 to 12 million Americans.

Risk for PAD increases with age, and with a history of smoking, diabetes or high blood pressure.

To investigate whether fruit and vegetable consumption influences risk for PAD, Berger’s team analyzed dietary data on 3,696,778 men and women with an average age of about 65, around 234,000 of whom had PAD.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend at least two servings of fruit and at least three servings of vegetables each day, but only 29 percent of participants in the study said they ate even three servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Nearly half said they consumed at least three servings of fruit and vegetables on fewer than half the days of the week.

Older white women were most likely to consume fruits and vegetables regularly, and younger black men were…



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