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It looks like mom wasn’t completely pulling your leg when she told you that you’d grow up to be “big, healthy and strong” because you ate your veggies. According to a study recently published by the American Heart Association, the regular consumption of fruits and veggies during your youth—specifically your 20s—may have a significant impact on your heart health later on in life.

According to Medical News Today, researchers suggest that young adults who consume an average of seven to nine portions of vegetables and fruits each day were 27 percent less likely to develop calcified coronary artery plaque two decades later than those with low fruit and veggie intake.

“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. Our findings support public health initiatives aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable intake as part of a healthy dietary pattern,” said Dr. Michael Miedema, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute and the study’s lead author.

While the relationship between fruits, vegetables, and great health would seem like a no-brainer, Miedema says that researchers “previously had little proof that what you eat when you’re younger actually impacts your heart disease risk later in life.”

Dr. Miedema and his team surveyed 2,506 participants, who were a part of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, about their smoking habits, weight, diet and other factors that are believed to have an impact on one’s cardiovascular health. They found that 18 to 30-year-olds “who ate the most fruits and vegetables were 25 percent less likely to have any plaque in their arteries 20 years later.”

Bon appetite.

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