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More Fresh Fruit, Less Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Do you start your morning with fresh blueberries with your oatmeal or yogurt? Or do you pack an apple or an orange every day to fend off an afternoon slump? If so, you may be doing your heart a huge favor! A large-scale study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who eat fresh fruit daily may lower their risk of heart attack or stroke by an eye-opening amount,[1] giving us yet another reason to keep eating fruit!

The study was conducted in China, where fresh fruit consumption is lower than in the United States. Researchers from the University of Oxford and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences followed over 450,000 participants between the ages of 30 and 79 in ten different urban and rural areas for seven years. None of the subjects had a history of cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure at the beginning of the study.

After controlling for factors such as education levels and smoking status, researchers found that a 100-gram serving of fruit per day was associated with an impressive one-third drop in cardiovascular mortality.

The senior author of the study, Dr. Zhengming Cheng, said if the protective effect of fruit is as strong as it seems from the study, “…then widespread consumption of fresh fruit in China could prevent about a half a million cardiovascular deaths a year, including 200,000 deaths before age 70, and even larger numbers of non-fatal strokes and heart attacks.”[2] Imagine a half a million deaths from cardiovascular disease prevented per year — just from eating fruit!

Eating fruit daily was also associated with lower systolic blood pressure and lower blood sugar. The effect was dose-dependent for all the health benefits studied, which means the more fruit people ate, the better their health outcomes. That’s the kind of news we like to hear!

One thing that struck me about the study was that the fruit eaten was mainly apples and oranges in relatively modest amounts. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype about the latest trendy super fruit, but the old standbys are nutritious, too, as well as being tasty, easily available, and affordable!

How much fruit is 100 grams? It’s a little over half of a medium-sized apple or around three-quarters of a medium orange. That’s probably less than you’d eat for an afternoon pick-me-up! Which just goes to show that healthy daily habits, even modest ones, can make a real difference in the long run. Celebrate this exciting news with your favorite fruits!

Do you eat fruit every day? What’s your favorite fruit? Share with us in the comments below!


[1] Du H, et al. Fresh fruit consumption and major cardiovascular disease in China. N Engl J Med. 2016 Apr 7; 374(14) 1332-43.

 

 

[2] Fresh fruit associated with lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Nutraceuticals World. 2016 Apr 11. http://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/contents/view_breaking-news/2016-04-11/fresh-fruit-associated-with-lower-risk-of-heart-attack-and-stroke/?email_uid=662a61f7b9/list_id=396c189146/

 

 

 

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