Looks like an apple a day really keeps the doctor at bay, as scientists prove daily consumption of fruit significantly lowers risk of heart attack and stroke.
In Western countries, it is widely established that fresh fruits in diet offer cardioprotection. However, little is known for countries like China who has high incidence of stroke and low number of residents who consume fruits on a daily basis.
This has prompted the researchers to establish a correlation between fruit consumption and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). From 2004 to 2008, study authors recruited 512,891 adults with ages ranging from 30 to 79 years old who hail from 10 different Chinese communities.
During follow up, cause of mortality were identified and showed that in 451,665 participants who have no previous history of CVD; 5,173 died from a cardio-related disease. Researchers recorded 14,579 incidents of ischemic strokes, 3,523 intracerebral hemorrhages, and 2,551 major coronary events.
The number of cardiac disease ratio to fresh fruit consumption was adjusted and analyzed.
The results showed that 18 percent of the study participants with daily fruit consumption have lower blood glucose levels by at least 0.5 millimoles per liter and lower systolic blood pressure by 4.0 millimeter mercury.
With the significant reduction of the said parameters, fresh fruits are more effective than statins, which has many side effects. However, the researchers were quick to point out that those taking statins should use fruit as an alternative treatment. Professor of Epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Zhengming Chen recommends that fruit consumption should be part of the daily diet to help prevent CVD-related deaths.
"The potential impact is huge," Chen said. "The take home message is that fresh fruit is very good for you and it should be encouraged to potentially reduce mortality."
But the nature of the study cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a cardiology professor at the University of California said that studies like this is crucial in preventing cardiovascular diseases.
"Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of avoidable and premature death globally," said Fonarow. "Further studies are needed to determine if eating more fruit will result in meaningful health gains."
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The American Heart Association (AHA), data from 2013 showed that one in three U.S. deaths is due to cardiovascular disease. Heart disease and stroke take the top two spots as the leading cause of deaths worldwide.
Photo: Stuart Mudie | Flickr