Daily fruit consumption cuts the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 40%, according to Oxford researchers. The findings from the seven year follow-up study of nearly a half million people in China found that the more fruit people ate, the more their risk of cardiovascular disease declined.

“Our data clearly shows that eating fresh fruit can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke,” said Dr. Huaidong Du. “And not only that, the more fruit you eat the more your CVD risk goes down.”

The current study, presenting to the European Society of Cardiology in Spain yesterday, included almost 451,681 participants with no history of CVD and not on anti-hypertensive treatment from 10 different areas of China — 5 rural and 5 urban. Consumption of fruit was recorded according to five categories: never, monthly, 1-3 days per week, 4-6 days per week, daily. 18% of participants consumed fruit daily and 6.3% never consumed fruit. The average amount of fruit eaten by the daily consumers was 1.5 portions.

Over the seven year follow up period there were 19,300 cases of heart disease and 19,689 strokes. The researchers found that compared to people who never ate fruit, those who ate fruit daily cut their CVD risks by 25-40%.

The researchers also found that people who consumed fruit more often had significantly lower blood pressure.

In a separate analysis, the researchers examined the association of fruit consumption with risk of death in more than 61,000 patients from China who had CVD or hypertension. They found that compared to those who never ate fruit, daily consumers of fruit cut their overall risk of death by 32%. They also reduced their risks of dying from heart disease by 27% and from stroke by around 40%.

Professor Zhengming Chen, the principal investigator of the China Kadoorie Biobank, said: “Patients with CVD and hypertension should also be encouraged to consume more fresh fruit. Many western populations have experienced a rapid decrease in CVD mortality during the past several decades, especially stroke mortality since the early 1950s, for reasons that are not yet fully explained. Improved access to fresh fruit may well have contributed importantly to that decline.”

The researchers concluded that policies are needed to “promote the availability, affordability and acceptability of fresh fruit through educational and regulatory measures.”

Source: European Society of Cardiology

Photo (c) Sun Star

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