An apple a day keeps Chinese hearts ticking
EATING an apple a day is uncommon in China but people who do eat fresh fruit regularly may see a significant drop in their risk of heart disease, researchers said on Wednesday.
Similar studies have been done in the West but rarely have researchers examined how eating fruit affects heart health in China.
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 fruit daily - such as apples, pears and oranges - had a 40 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular death.
Their risk of major coronary events, such as heart attack and stroke, is also 34 per cent lower than those who rarely or never ate fresh fruit.
Fruit is known to contain potassium, fibre and antioxidants that can lower blood pressure and blood sugar.
Researchers found that the impact of eating fruit in China was even more beneficial than seen in studies in the West.
"The association 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, a researcher at the University of Oxford, Britain.
For instance, a recent analysis of six studies involving nearly 680,000 people in the West found that an extra serving of fruit daily was associated with just a 5 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular death.
The latest study enrolled people aged 35 to 74 in 10 locations across China.
They had no history of cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.
Only 18 per cent said they ate raw fruit every day.
The study did not examine which kind of fruit they ate and researchers could not determine if fruit was truly causing the beneficial effects against heart disease and stroke.