New research has shown that eating a single or two pieces of fruit each day can reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack by up to 40%.
Oxford University undertook a seven-year study of almost half a million people, which indicated that those who include fruit in their daily diet were at much lower risk of the two main forms of stroke and heart disease.
The fruit consumption levels were placed into five groups – daily, four to six days each week, one to three days each week, monthly and never. It was found that the more often people ate fruit, the lower their risks became.
Researchers discovered that by comparing those who never ate fruit, to those who had a daily helping, the daily eaters reduced their risk of heart failure by around 15%.
The risk rate for ischemic stroke, which is the most common type, decreased by around 25% among daily fruit consumers. The rate reduced by about 40% in the case of haemorrhagic stroke.
People who consumed fruit on a daily basis also had much lower blood pressure.
The study did not consider the impact related to the number of fruit pieces consumed per day.
Among those who ate fruit daily, the average consumption was 1.5 pieces. This is way below the recommended five pieces of vegetables and fruit per day.
Earlier this year, a study done by University College London discovered that eating seven portions of vegetables and fruit reduces the risk of death from any cause by around 42%.
The latest figures indicate that only one four people in Britain meet the ‘five-a-day’ recommendations, with the average consumption being four portions of vegetables and fruit daily.
The study which was done in China involved 451681 participants who had no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) at the commencement of the research.
Over the seven-year period there were 19300 incidences of heart disease and 19689 strokes. Almost one in five or 18% of those involved ate fruit on a daily basis, whilst 6.3% never ate fruit.
One of the researchers from Oxford University, Dr Huaidong Du, said cardiovascular disease, including stroke and ischemic heart disease, is the leading cause of death globally. He said the available data indicates that the consumption of fresh fruit can reduce the risk of CVD, and the more you eat, the lower the risk.
The Heart Health Dietician at the British Heart Foundation, Tracy Parker, said the study contributes to the increasing amount of evidence which indicates that if we eat more fruit and vegetables, our heart health will improve. The fact that a single daily portion aided in lowering the risk of CVD offers everyone an incentive.
Image Credit: Aimanness Photography