Eating more fruit 'cuts heart disease risk'
2nd September 2014 – Eating fruit every day reduces the risk of developing heart and stroke problems by up to 40%, say researchers.
The study also found that the more fruit people ate, the more their risk of developing cardiovascular disease declined, and their blood pressure was lowered.
The findings are based on a study of 451,682 people enrolled in a health study in China and have been presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona.
Those involved came from several different rural and urban areas, and none of them had a history of heart disease.
The amount of fruit eaten by the participants was logged at the start of the study according to 5 categories, ranging from never, to monthly, 1-3 days per week, 4-6 days per week, and daily. Some 18% of participants ate fruit daily and 6.3% never ate fruit. The average amount of fruit eaten by the 'daily' consumers was 1.5 portions.
Over the course of 7 years there were 19,300 cases of heart disease and 19,689 strokes.
The researchers also found that those who ate fruit more frequently had significantly lower blood pressure. Those in the 'daily consumption' group had upper (systolic) readings reduced by 3.4 mmHg and lower (diastolic) readings reduced by 1.4 mmHg compared to those in the 'never' or 'rarely' groups.
Furthermore, they found that compared to people who never ate fruit, those who ate fruit daily cut their risk of cardiovascular disease by between 25% and 40%. The breakdown of risk was:
- Around 15% for heart disease
- Around 25% for ischaemic stroke (where damage is caused by obstruction of a blood vessel in the brain)
- Around 40% for haemorrhagic stroke (where damage is caused by bleeding from a blood vessel)
The more fruit that was eaten, the lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, say the authors of the study, published in the European Heart Journal.
Lead author Dr Huaidong Du from the University of Oxford says in a statement: "Our data clearly shows that eating fresh fruit can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including ischaemic heart disease and stroke (particularly haemorrhagic stroke). And not only that, the more fruit you eat the more your CVD risk goes down. It does suggest that eating more fruit is beneficial compared to less or no fruit."
'Growing body of evidence'
Commenting in a statement, Tracy Parker, heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, which helped fund the research, says: "This study adds to the growing body of evidence that shows the more fruit and vegetables we eat the better our heart health.
"Even eating just one more portion a day helped lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, which should give us all that extra incentive."
She adds: "This research only looked at the benefits of fresh fruit, but if you’re struggling to meet your five a day, remember fresh, frozen, dried or tinned juice all count. Try adding fresh fruit to your cereal, keeping an apple in your bag for a snack on the go, or having tinned fruit in juice for dessert for quick and easy ways to up your intake."