An apple (or orange) a day really can keep the doctor away!

By Lola Gayle, Editor-at-large

Fresh fruit is a rich source of potassium, dietary fiber, antioxidants, among other beneficial nutrients and compounds. Fresh fruit also contains very little sodium or fat and relatively few calories, when compared to processed fruit.

If all that wasn’t enough to make your mouth water, consider this: People who eat fresh fruit on an almost daily basis are also at a lower risk of heart attack and stroke compared to those who don’t, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Oxford and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences conducted the large, nationwide study of 500,000 adults across China, tracking health for 7 years through death records and electronic hospital records of illness. The study participants did not have a history of cardiovascular diseases or anti-hypertensive treatments when first joined the study.

The study found that fruit consumption (mainly apples or oranges) was strongly associated with many other factors, such as education, lower blood pressure, lower blood glucose, and not smoking. And, after allowing for what was known of these and other factors, a 100g portion of fruit per day was associated with about one-third less cardiovascular mortality. The association was also similar across different study areas and in both men and women.

“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 Dr. Huaidong Du from the University of Oxford.

Fruit in China is almost exclusively consumed raw. However, in high-income countries, much of the fruit consumed is processed, and many previous studies focused on a combination of fresh and processed fruit.

“A recent Global Burden of Disease report put low fruit consumption as one of the leading causes of premature death in China,” said co-author Professor Liming Li from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. “However, this was based on little evidence from China itself.”

According to senior author, Professor Zhengming Chen from the University of Oxford, “It’s difficult to know whether the lower risk in people who eat more fresh fruit is because of a real protective effect. If it is, then widespread consumption of fresh fruit in China could prevent about half a million cardiovascular deaths a year, including 200,000 before age 70, and even larger numbers of non-fatal strokes and heart attacks.”

And it’s a sure bet the study results should serve as a wakeup call to all of us to ditch the processed fruit and opt for fresh varieties instead.

DISCLAIMER: This is a repost of a previous article I wrote during my time trying to get a friend’s site off the ground. After two years and virtually no headway or money — and no promise of how long the site will remain online — I am forced to take back ownership of my content. Portions of the content have been updated.

See Also: Gardeners Have Lower Blood Pressure