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Fruits, Veggies Lower Kids' Blood Pressure

 Fruits, Veggies Lower Kids' Blood Pressure Health - Reuters

Fruits, Veggies Lower Kids' Blood PressureBy Charnicia E. Huggins NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Preschoolers who eat the recommended four servings of fruits and vegetables -- along with two servings of dairy products -- each day may have lower blood pressures in early adolescence, new study findings suggest.

"The roots of high blood pressure and other diseases that we acquire as adults can be found in childhood," study author Dr. Lynn L. Moore of Boston University School of Medicine told Reuters Health. "Those who develop high blood pressure earlier in life, say as a young adult, rather than during middle age or later will be at much higher risk for heart attack, stroke, and other disabling conditions at a younger age," she added. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products has been shown to reduce blood pressure among adults with borderline high blood pressure. Studies have also shown that vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressures than non-vegetarians. Whether such findings extend to children, however, has been unknown until now. To investigate, Moore and her team followed 95 children, from preschool -- ages 3 to 6 -- to early adolescence at age 12. Preschoolers who ate at least four servings of fruits and vegetables each day and at least two servings of dairy products had the lowest blood pressures at 12 years old, the researchers report in the journal Epidemiology. By the end of the 8-year study period, blood pressure among those in the high intake group for both fruits and vegetables and dairy products was 7 points lower, on average, than among those with a lower than recommended intake of fruits, vegetables and dairy products. The children who ate less than four servings of fruits and vegetables and less than two dairy servings per day "will be at higher risk for developing high blood pressure as young adults," Moore said. In general, children who ate more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products at younger ages tended to continue these healthy eating habits in early adolescence. It is unclear how a higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products lowers blood pressure. People with such diets may have healthier dietary patterns in general, the authors speculate. For example, children who ate more fruits and vegetables also tended to consume more whole grains and less fat than their peers. "Since adolescent blood pressure predicts adult blood pressure levels, these results suggest that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products in very early childhood may prevent or delay the development of adult hypertension," Moore said. "Children who learn to eat a healthy diet in earlier childhood will reap the benefits for years and years to come," she added. "It's the parent's responsibility to start children off on the right track." The study was funded by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Dairy Management, Inc., which manages the American Dairy Association/National Dairy Council. SOURCE: Epidemiology, January 2005.

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