Sunday, September 14, 2014

An Apple a Day Truly Keeps the Doctor Away

Almost a half a million people in China brought ESC Congress researchers to the conclusion that the more fruit you eat, the healthier your brain gets. Just how much healthier may surprise you.

Barcelona, Spain – A seven year follow-up study of nearly 0.5 million people in the China Kadoorie Biobank found that the more fruit people ate, the more their risk of stroke declined. Stroke (as well as hypertension and cardiovascular disease) is a big risk factor for vascular dementia and Alzheimer's.

According to research presented at ESC Congress today by Dr. Huaidong Du from Oxford, UK, in China, "We have conducted the first large prospective study on the association of fruit with subtypes of stroke in Chinese adults from both rural and urban areas."

The current study included 451,681 participants with no history of CVD and not on anti-hypertensive treatment at baseline from the China Kadoorie Biobank(1) conducted in 10 different areas of China, 5 rural and 5 urban. Habitual consumption of fruit was recorded at baseline according to five categories: never, monthly, 1-3 days per week, 4-6 days per week, daily.

Over the seven year follow up period there were 19,689 strokes (14,688 ischaemic and 3,562 haemorrhagic). Some 18% of participants consumed fruit daily and 6.3% never consumed fruit. The average amount of fruit eaten by the daily consumers was 1.5 portions (~150g) (2).

The researchers found that compared to people who never ate fruit, those who ate fruit daily cut their risk by 25% for ischaemic stroke and 40% for haemorrhagic stroke. There was a dose response relationship between the frequency of fruit consumption and the risk.

Dr. Du said: "Our data clearly shows that eating fresh fruit can reduce the risk of ... stroke (particularly haemorrhagic stroke). And not only that, the more fruit you eat, the more your ... risk goes down. It does suggest that eating more fruit is beneficial compared to less or no fruit."

The researchers also found that people who consumed fruit more often had significantly lower blood pressure (BP). Eating fruit daily was associated with 3.4/4.1 mmHg lower systolic/diastolic BP compared to those who never ate fruit. Dr. Du said: "Our data shows that eating fresh fruit was associated with lower baseline BP."

Professor Zhengming Chen, the principal investigator of the China Kadoorie Biobank, said: "Patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and hypertension should also be encouraged to consume more fresh fruit. Many western populations have experienced a rapid decrease in cardiovascular disease mortality during the past several decades, especially stroke mortality since the early 1950s, for reasons that are not yet fully explained. Improved access to fresh fruit may well have contributed importantly to that decline."

The researchers concluded: "Our results show the benefit of eating fruit in the healthy general population and in patients with CVD and hypertension. Fruit consumption is an effective way to cut CVD risk and should not only be regarded as 'might be useful'. Policies are needed to promote the availability, affordability and acceptability of fresh fruit through educational and regulatory measures."


(1) The China Kadoorie Biobank is a prospective cohort study established jointly by the University of Oxford's Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. The baseline survey took place during 2004 and 2008 involving 0.5 million people in 10 regions across China including 5 urban and 5 rural. For more information visit here.

(2) The China Kadoorie Biobank conducts a resurvey every 4 or 5 years among about 5% of randomly selected participants who are still alive. A resurvey is ongoing and will be completed by the end of August/beginning of September. Initial data show that the average amount of fruit eaten by the daily consumption group is 1.5 portions (150g).


The European Society of Cardiology

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) represents more than 80,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.

ESC Congress 2014

ESC Congress is currently the world's largest international congress in cardiovascular medicine. ESC Congress 2014 takes place 30 August to 3 September at the Fira Gran Via congress centre in Barcelona, Spain.

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