Eating More Fruit Cuts Heart Disease Risk: Study

By Peter Russell
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Keith Barnard, MD

Sept. 2, 2014 -- Eating fruit every day lowers the risk of getting heart and stroke problems by up to 40%, researchers say.

Their new study also found that the more fruit people ate, the more their risk of getting cardiovascular disease declined, and their blood pressure was lowered.

The findings are based on a study of 451,682 people enrolled in a health study in China and were presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The participants came from several different rural and urban areas, and none of them had a history of heart disease.

The amount of fruit they ate was logged at the start of the study according to five categories:

  • Never
  • Monthly
  • 1-3 days per week
  • 4-6 days per week
  • Daily

Some 18% of participants ate fruit daily and 6.3% never ate it. The average amount of fruit eaten by the people who said they had it daily was 1.5 servings.

Over the course of 7 years, there were 19,300 cases of heart disease and 19,689 strokes.

Blood Pressure

The researchers also found that those who ate fruit more frequently had lower blood pressure.

What's more, they found that compared to people who never ate fruit, those who ate it daily cut their risk of cardiovascular disease by between 25% and 40%. The breakdown of lowered risk was:

  • Around 15% for heart disease
  • Around 25% for ischemic stroke (where damage is caused by obstruction of a blood vessel in the brain)
  • Around 40% for hemorrhagic stroke (where damage is caused by bleeding from a blood vessel)

The more fruit that was eaten, the lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, say the authors of the study, published in the European Heart Journal.

'Growing Body of Evidence'

Commenting in a statement, Tracy Parker, heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, which helped fund the research, says: "This study adds to the growing body of evidence that shows the more fruit and vegetables we eat the better our heart health.

"Even eating just one more portion a day helped lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, which should give us all that extra incentive."

"This research only looked at the benefits of fresh fruit," she says, "but if you're struggling to meet your five a day, remember fresh, frozen, dried or [canned in] juice all count. Try adding fresh fruit to your cereal, keeping an apple in your bag for a snack on the go, or having [canned] fruit in juice for dessert for quick and easy ways to up your intake."

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SOURCES: H Du. European Heart Journal, 2014. European Society of Cardiology. British Heart Foundation.

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