People who can’t shop for fresh food close to home are more likely to have early signs of heart disease, a new study finds.
Researchers examined data from nearly 6,000 adults who had an initial heart CT scan and several follow-up scans over 12 years.
The availability of fresh food near their homes was key to the condition of their arteries, according to the study published Aug. 15 in the journal Circulation.
“We found that healthy food stores within one mile of their home was the only significant factor that reduced or slowed the progression of calcium buildup in coronary arteries,” co-lead author Ella August said in a journal news release. She is a clinical assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“Our results point to a need for greater awareness of the potential health threat posed by the scarcity of healthy grocery options in certain neighborhoods,” August added.
Co-lead author Jeffrey Wing said, “The thought is that greater access to healthier foods may have promoted healthier diets and, in turn, less coronary plaque formation.” Wing is an assistant professor of public health at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
The American Heart Association recommends a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish. It also advises people to eat foods low in saturated and trans fats and sodium, and to limit their intake of added sugars and red meats.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers healthy eating tips.