Daily fruit consumption can cut the risk of overall death by 32 per cent and cardiovascular disease (CVD) by up to 40 per cent, according to a new Oxford study.
The findings from the seven year follow-up study of nearly 0.5 million people in the China Kadoorie Biobank found that the more fruit people ate, the more their risk of CVD declined.
"CVD, including ischaemic 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," said Dr Huaidong Du from Oxford University.
The current study included 451,681 participants with no history of CVD and not on anti-hypertensive treatment at baseline in 10 different areas of China, 5 rural and 5 urban.
Over the seven year follow up period there were 19,300 cases of IHD and 19,689 strokes (14,688 ischaemic and 3,562 haemorrhagic).
Some 18 per cent of participants consumed fruit daily and 6.3 per cent never consumed fruit. The average amount of fruit eaten by the daily consumers was 1.5 portions (150g).
Researchers found that compared to people who never ate fruit, those who ate fruit daily cut their CVD risks by 25-40 per cent (around 15 per cent for IHD, around 25 per cent for ischaemic stroke and 40 per cent for haemorrhagic stroke). There was a dose response relationship between the frequency of fruit consumption and the risk of CVD.
"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," said Du.
The researchers also found that people who consumed fruit more often had significantly lower blood pressure (BP).
In a separate analysis, the researchers examined the association of fruit consumption with total mortality and CV mortality in more than 61,000 patients who had CVD or hypertension at baseline.
They found that compared to those who never ate fruit, daily consumers of fruit cut their overall risk of death by 32 per cent. They also reduced their risks of dying from IHD by 27 per cent and from stroke by around 40 per cent.
The research was presented at ESC Congress in Barcelona, Spain.