Study Spotlight

Study Spotlight

Eat fresh fruit, prevent a stroke

While it’s fairly common sense that the more fresh fruits you eat, the better your overall health will be, a new study adds scientific weight to the idea. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that daily fresh fruit consumption corresponded with lower systolic blood pressure and blood sugar, and fewer major coronary incidents, including ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. The study recruited over 500,000 volunteers in China, and lasted for four years. Of the 18 percent who reported eating fresh fruit daily, the results were similar despite diverse differences in regions and subgroups. If you are concerned about your cardiovascular health, either due to family histories or less-than-stellar lifestyle habits, making fresh fruit a part of your daily diet is a must.


The Study: Fresh Fruit Consumption and Major Cardiovascular Disease in China.

Du H, Li L, Bennett D, Guo Y, et al. Fresh Fruit Consumption and Major Cardiovascular Disease in China. N Engl J Med. 2016 Apr 7;374(14):1332-43.

BACKGROUND: In Western populations, a higher level of fruit consumption has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but little is known about such associations in China, where the consumption level is low and rates of stroke are high.

METHODS: Between 2004 and 2008, we recruited 512,891 adults, 30 to 79 years of age, from 10 diverse localities in China. During 3.2 million person-years of follow-up, 5173 deaths from cardiovascular disease, 2551 incident major coronary events (fatal or nonfatal), 14,579 ischemic strokes, and 3523 intracerebral hemorrhages were recorded among the 451,665 participants who did not have a history of cardiovascular disease or antihypertensive treatments at baseline. Cox regression yielded adjusted hazard ratios relating fresh fruit consumption to disease rates.

RESULTS: Overall, 18.0% of participants reported consuming fresh fruit daily. As compared with participants who never or rarely consumed fresh fruit (the "nonconsumption" category), those who ate fresh fruit daily had lower systolic blood pressure (by 4.0 mm Hg) and blood glucose levels (by 0.5 mmol per liter [9.0 mg per deciliter]) (P<0.001 for trend for both comparisons). The adjusted hazard ratios for daily consumption versus nonconsumption were 0.60 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.54 to 0.67) for cardiovascular death, and 0.66 (95% CI, 0.58 to 0.75), 0.75 (95% CI, 0.72 to 0.79), and 0.64 (95% CI, 0.56 to 0.74), respectively, for incident major coronary events, ischemic stroke, and hemorrhagic stroke. There was a strong log-linear dose-response relationship between the incidence of each outcome and the amount of fresh fruit consumed. These associations were similar across the 10 study regions and in subgroups of participants defined by baseline characteristics.

CONCLUSIONS: Among Chinese adults, a higher level of fruit consumption was associated with lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels and, largely independent of these and other dietary and nondietary factors, with significantly lower risks of major cardiovascular diseases. (Funded by the Wellcome Trust and others.).

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