A study recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine looks at the association between eating fresh fruit and its impact on cardiovascular disease in China.
Study researchers were particularly interested to see if the correlation existed in China, since in Western countries higher levels of fruit consumption have already been linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
From what study researchers knew when they first embarked on their research, fresh fruit consumption in China is low and rates of stroke are high.
Could eating more fresh fruit make a difference?
Study Method and Results
For the study, over 500,000 adults between the ages of 30 and 79 were recruited in 10 regions across China from 2004 to 2008. During follow-up years, researchers discovered:
- 5,173 died from cardiovascular disease
- 2,551 had major coronary incidents
- 14,579 had ischemic strokes
- 3,523 participants who didn’t have a history of cardiovascular disease when they were recruited ended up having intracerebral hemorrhages
About 18% of study participants reported that they ate fresh fruit on a daily basis. Participants who ate fruit on a daily basis compared to participants who rarely or never ate fresh fruit daily had lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels (by 4.0 mm Hg and 0.5 mmol per liter, respectively.) Fresh fruit eaters in China also had considerably lower risks of major cardiovascular diseases. Researchers state that the associations were similar across all 10 study regions.
The study was partially funded by the British Heart Foundation.
Previous Research on Eating Fruits and Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
In a review published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports, researchers looked at evidence in support of increasing fruit and veggie consumption for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Research shows that people who eat more fruits and veggies have a lower prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (i.e. obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes).
Researchers suggest that fruits and vegetables have a low glycemic load, are rich in nutrients such as potassium, fiber, and folate, which could possibly help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Du, H., et al., “Fresh Fruit Consumption and Major Cardiovascular Disease in China,” The New England Journal of Medicine, April 7, 2016; 374:1332-1343; doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1501451; http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1501451, last accessed April 14, 2016.
Bazzano, L.A. et al., “Dietary intake of fruits and vegetables and risk of cardiovascular disease,” Current Atherosclerosis Reports, 2003 Nov; 5(6):492-9; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14525683, last accessed April 14, 2016.