“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,” said co-lead author Ella August, Ph.D., 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.”
Researchers said future studies should examine the impact of interventions, such as promoting the location of healthy food stores and how neighborhood characteristics may interact with individual risk factors and genetic predispositions.
The American Heart Association recommends a heart-healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish. It encourages eating foods low in sodium and saturated and trans fats, and limiting added sugars and red meat.
The study published Monday in the AHA journal Circulation.