Eating More Fruit May Boost Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease risk may drop by as much as 40 percent with regular fruit intake

(RxWiki News) Multiple studies have shown the many health benefits of fruit. And when it comes to heart health, the more fruit, the better, a new study found.

The connection between fruit and heart health is not new. The American Heart Association recommends eating 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day for the average adult on a 2,000-calorie diet.

A new study from China found that, the more fruit people ate, the more their cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk dropped and the more their blood pressure improved.

"Eat fruit daily to help lower your risk of heart disease."

"We've know for a long time that fruits are loaded with disease fighting antioxidants. However, this study doesn't address the issue of other healthy lifestyle behaviors that those who consumed more fruit may also have performed," said Rusty Gregory, a wellness coach, personal fitness trainer and author of "Self-Care Reform: How to Discover Your Own Path to Good Health" and "Living Wheat-Free For Dummies."

According to Gregory, "When people engage in a lifestyle they believe is healthy, they are more likely to participate in other healthy behaviors, as well. Therefore, it can be difficult to identify the reason for the drop in risk factors."

This study was led by Huaidong Du, MD, with the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Population Health in the UK.

Dr. Du and colleagues assessed data on 451,681 patients. At the start of the study, they had no history of heart disease and were not taking any blood pressure medicines.

Patients characterized their fruit intake according to one of the following categories: never, monthly, one to three days per week, four to six days per week and daily.

About 18 percent ate fruit every day, while 6.3 percent never consumed fruit. The regular fruit eaters ate an average of 1.5 portions daily.

After seven years, 19,300 patients reported having ischemic heart disease. This is characterized by a blockage in the coronary arteries that reduces the supply of blood to the heart. A total of 19,689 had strokes. Of these, 14,688 were ischemic (caused by a blockage) and 3,562 were hemorrhagic (caused by a ruptured blood vessel).

Scientists observed that daily fruit eaters slashed their heart disease risk by 25 to 40 percent compared to participants who never ate fruit. Their risk declined about 15 percent for ischemic heart disease, 25 percent for ischemic stroke and 40 percent for hemorrhagic stroke.

“The more fruit you eat the more your CVD risk goes down,” Dr. Du said in a press statement. "[The study] does suggest that eating more fruit is beneficial compared to less or no fruit."

Fruit also seemed to play a role in lowering blood pressure. Daily fruit consumption was associated with an average pressure drop of 3.4 systolic (when the heart contracts) and 4.1 diastolic (when the heart relaxes) points compared to those who never ate fruit.

Also, fruit appeared to lower the risk of death. Compared to those who never ate fruit, regular fruit eaters had a 32 percent lower chance of dying.

“Fruit consumption is an effective way to cut CVD risk and should not only be regarded as 'might be useful,’” concluded the authors. “Policies are needed to promote the availability, affordability and acceptability of fresh fruit through educational and regulatory measures."

The research was presented in September at the European Society of Cardiology Congress.

The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 4, 2014