MIAMI: Eating an apple a day is uncommon in China, but people who do eat fresh fruits regularly may see a significant drop in their risk of heart disease, researchers said.
Similar studies have been done on Western populations, but rarely have researchers examined how eating fruits affects heart health in China, where diet and disease patterns are quite different.
The study in the New England Journal of Medicine enrolled nearly half a million healthy adults in China and followed them for seven years.
Those who ate fresh fruits daily such as apples, pears or oranges had a 40% lower risk of cardiovascular death and a 34% lower risk of major coronary events such as heart attack and stroke than those who rarely or never consumed fresh fruits.
Fruits are known to contain potassium, fiber and antioxidants that can lower both blood pressure and blood sugar.
Researchers found that the impact of fruit-eating in China – where some 230 million people suffer from cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure – was even more beneficial than seen in previous studies in Western populations.
For instance, a recent meta-analysis of six studies involving nearly 680,000 people in the West found that each additional serving of fruit per day “was associated with a 5% lower risk of cardiovascular death, which is not good evidence of a real protective effect,” said the study.
Only 18% of those surveyed in China said they ate raw fruits on a daily basis.
“The link between fruit consumption and cardiovascular risk seems to be stronger in China, where many still eat little fruit, than in high-income countries where daily consumption of fruit is more common,” said study author Huaidong Du from the University of Oxford.
The study enrolled people aged 35 to 74 in 10 urban and rural locations across China. — AFP