The data comes from a seven year follow-up study of nearly 500,000 people in the China Kadoorie Biobank region – finding that the more fruit people ate, the more their risk of CVD declined.,
Led by by Dr Huaidong Du from Oxford, UK, and presented at the ESC Congress, the study followed 451,681 participants with no history of CVD in 10 different areas of China, five rural and five urban. The team noted that while it is well known that improving diet is ‘critical’ for reducing CVD risk - large majority of this evidence has come from western countries and hardly any from China."
"China has a different pattern of CVD, with stroke as the main cause compared to western countries where IHD is more prevalent,” commented Du. “Previous studies have combined ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke probably due to the limited number of stroke cases in their datasets. Given their different physiology and risk factors, we have conducted the first large prospective study on the association of fruit with subtypes of stroke in Chinese adults from both rural and urban areas."
"Our results show the benefit of eating fruit in the healthy general population and in patients with CVD and hypertension,” concluded the team. “Fruit consumption is an effective way to cut CVD risk and should not only be regarded as 'might be useful'.”
“Policies are needed to promote the availability, affordability and acceptability of fresh fruit through educational and regulatory measures."
The team assessed habitual consumption of fruit at baseline according to five categories: never, monthly, 1-3 days per week, 4-6 days per week, daily, before following the participants for an average of seven years.
The team found that around 18% of participants consumed fruit daily, while 6.3% never consumed fruit. The average amount of fruit eaten by the daily consumers was 1.5 portions, they said.
Over the seven year follow up period there were 19,300 cases of IHD and 19,689 strokes, said the team.
The researchers found that compared to people who never ate fruit, those who ate fruit daily cut their CVD risks by 25-40% (around 15% for IHD, around 25% for ischaemic stroke and 40% for haemorrhagic stroke).
They revealed that a dose response relationship was found 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),” said Du. “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."
Blood pressure and mortality effects
Du and colleagues also found that people who consumed fruit more often had significantly lower blood pressure (BP).
Eating fruit daily was associated with 3.4/4.1 mmHg lower systolic/diastolic BP compared to those who never ate fruit.
Dr Du said: "Our data shows that eating fresh fruit was associated with lower baseline BP. We also found that the beneficial effect of fruit on the risk of CVD was independent of its impact on baseline BP."
A separate analysis looking at the association of fruit consumption with total mortality and CV mortality in more than 61,000 patients found that daily consumers of fruit cut their overall risk of death by 32% compared to those who ate no fruit.
This group also reduced their risks of dying from IHD by 27% and from stroke by around 40%, the team confirmed.