Think of the possibilities if every old wives’ tale or aphorism heard growing up turned out to be true. Yet, still more research supports the wisdom of an apple a day (or some fruit) keeping the doctor – or cardiovascular disease (CVD) – away.
Eating an apple or another type of fruit daily can lower a person’s risk of heart disease and having a stroke by up to 40 percent, according to a new study. Researchers also found that the more fruit the study participants ate, the more their risk of getting CVD declined. In addition, their blood pressure was lowered.
The findings are based on a seven-year Oxford University study of 451,682 people in China. They were presented this week at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona, Spain.
The research team’s use of nearly half a million people in China as subjects makes the study very unique. Most health studies have come from the West and not looked the China, which has a different pattern of heart disease, but it does exist there. In fact, worldwide, heart disease and stroke combined are the sixth leading cause of death.
All those in the research study had no history of heart disease. In addition, the participants came from five different urban and five different rural areas.
The study participants were categorized in five groups at the start of the study by their fruit consumption habits, ranging from daily to one a week in the middle and never on the far end. At the onset, 18 percent reported that they ate some type of fruit daily, whereas 6.3 percent never did. In addition, those who had fruit daily averaged 1.5 servings per day.
Over the seven years, the group had 19,689 strokes and 19,300 cases of heart disease. The researchers found that the people who ate fruit on a daily basis lowered their CVD risks by up to 40 percent, compared to the people who never ate fruit. Eating fruits daily lowered the risk of heart disease by about 15 percent. On the stroke front, a daily diet of fruit lowered the risk of ischemic stroke (the kind caused by obstruction of a brain blood vessel ) by around 25 percent and hemorrhagic stroke (caused by bleeding from a blood vessel) by 40 percent.
There were differences in blood pressure too. The blood pressure for those who regularly ate fruit was on average four points lower.
Noting that eating just one portion of fruit a day was impactful in reducing CVD risk, Tracy Parker, heart health dietician at the British Health Foundation pointed out that the study should incentivize all to eat more fruit. It added to “the growing body of evidence that shows the more fruit and vegetables we eat the better our heart health.”
Parker also pointed out that the Oxford research study only looked at the benefits of fresh fruit. She reminded people that fresh, frozen, dried or canned-in-juice fruit servings all count. Her statement also suggested keeping an apple handy for a snack on the go, which consumed every day will help keep CVD away, according to the research
By Dyanne Weiss