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Fruit Intake Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Update Date: Sep 01, 2014 10:54 AM EDT

Health experts are always pushing people of all ages to eat more fruit. In a new study, researchers examined how fruit consumption affects heart health. The team found that people who ate more fruits ended up cutting their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by up to 40 percent.

 "CVD, including ischemic heart disease (IHD) and stroke, is the leading cause of death worldwide. 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," Dr. Huaidong Du from Oxford, UK said according to the press release. "China has a different pattern of CVD, with stroke as the main cause compared to western countries where IHD is more prevalent."

For this study, the researchers recruited 451,681 participants from 10 different regions in China taken from the China Kadoorie Biobank. Five were urban areas whereas the other five were rural ones. None of the participants had a history of CVD and were not being treating for hypertension (high blood pressure) at baseline. The researchers collected information on fruit consumption and categorized it into five groups, which were: never, monthly, one to three days per week, four to six days per week and everyday.

At the end of the seven-year follow up period, there were a total of 19,300 IHD cases and 19,689 stroke cases. Around 18 percent consumed fruits on a daily basis and 6.3 percent never ate fruits. The team found that people who ate fruits everyday lowered their risk of CVD by 25 to 40 percent in comparison to people who never ate fruits on a daily basis. Their risks for IHD, ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke fell by 15 percent, 25 percent and 40 percent respectively.

"Our data clearly shows that eating fresh fruit can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including ischemic 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," Dr. Du said. "Our data shows that eating fresh fruit was associated with lower baseline BP (blood pressure). We also found that the beneficial effect of fruit on the risk of CVD was independent of its impact on baseline BP."

The team conducted another analysis on 61,000 people from the China Kadoorie Biobank who had CVD or hypertension during the start of the study. The team found that people who consumed fruits everyday had a reduced risk of death by 32 percent in comparison to people who never consumed fruits. Daily fruit eaters also lowered their risks of death from IHD by 27 percent and from stoke by almost 40 percent.

The study's findings were presented at the ESC Congress.

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