In a study of 451,681 participants in the China Kadoorie Biobank, the researchers found that, over the course of a 7-year follow-up period, the risk of cardiovascular disease declined the more fruit participants ate.
The study included individuals with no history of CVD and not on anti-hypertensive treatment at baseline. Habitual consumption was recorded at baseline according to 5 categories: never, monthly, 1 to 3 days per week, 4 to 6 days per week, and daily. Over the 7-year follow-up period, the researchers observed 19,300 cases of ischaemic heart disease (IHD), and 19,689 strokes. Eighteen percent of participants consumed fruit daily, while 6.3% never consumed fruit. The average amount of fruit eaten by those who reported consuming fruit daily was 1.5 portions.
Compared to those who never ate fruit, daily fruit eaters cut their CVD risk between 25% and 40% . More specifically, this number was around 15% for IHD, around 25% for ischaemic stroke, and 40% for hemorrhagic stroke. The authors also found a dose-response relationship between the frequency of fruit consumption and the risk of CVD. In addition, people who consumed fruit more often had much lower blood pressure. Eating fruit on a daily basis was associated with 3.4/4.1 mmHg lower systolic/diastolic blood pressure in comparison to those who indicated they never ate fruit.
“CVD, including ischaemic heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death worldwide,” according to Huaidong Du, MD, a physician in Oxford in the United Kingdom, and lead author of the study.
“Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for CVD risk reduction in the general population, but the large majority of this evidence has come from western countries and hardly any from China,” says Du.
“Our data clearly shows that eating fresh fruit can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including ischaemic heart disease and stroke—particularly hemorrhagic 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.”
The findings were originally presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, held Aug. 30 – Sept. 3 in Barcelona, Spain.