Fruit lovers rejoice! New studies have found that eating fresh fruits every day can decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. We all know that eating fruit is healthy, but not everyone knows how beneficial eating fruit is for the heart. Strong evidence shows that fruit has the power to decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular-related death.
A recent article was published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Huaidong Du of Oxford University in the United Kingdom and colleagues on their study exploring the beneficial effects of fruit intake. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2015-2020 recommends that adults who perform less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on a daily basis should eat 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits per day, based on evidence that incorporating fruits as part of a healthy diet decreases the risk of several chronic diseases.
However, according to last year’s report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 13.1% of American adults eat enough fruit every day. Results from Dr. Du’s research has further emphasized the beneficial qualities of eating fruit, showing that fresh fruit intake on a daily basis could decrease one’s risk of heart attack and stroke. His study supports previous research that eating a substantial amount of fruits and vegetables in young adulthood could protect heart health in older ages.
However, not enough studies have been done to explore the effect of eating large amounts of fruit to benefit heart health in China—a country where dietary intake of fruit is much lower than most other countries, including the United States and United Kingdom. Thus, Dr. Du and his team studied 512,891 participants between the ages of 30 and 79 from 10 urban and rural areas in China, who had no previous incidences of cardiovascular disease or use of anti-hypertensive drugs. These participants were instructed to give a report of their daily fruit intake, including the type of fruits they ate and the amount. Researchers tracked their health for about 7 years using electronic hospital records and death records.
The researchers found that participants who ate fresh fruits every day showed lower levels of blood pressure and glucose compared to participants who never or only occasionally ate fresh fruits. Furthermore, participants who ate fruit regularly had lower risks for heart attack and stroke.
After taking into consideration “lower blood pressure, lower glucose levels and other factors, including education and not smoking,” the researchers found that participants who ate about 100 grams of fresh fruit every day were also a third less likely to die from cardiovascular problems, compared with those who barely ate fresh fruits on a daily basis.
Dr. Du notes that the association between high fruit intake and cardiovascular risk was observed to be stronger in China, possibly due to the fact that daily fruit intake is less common in this country than in more high-income countries.
Older adults living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities need to be provided with the best quality care, and that includes good nutritional management. Fruits are natural sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals that are clearly beneficial to all areas of health. Patients in these facilities should be given adequate amounts of nutrients from the meals they are given, including fruits and vegetables.