London: A fruit a day can keep heart diseases at bay, a new study has found, adding that people who eat fresh fruit regularly are less prone to a heart attack or stroke than people who rarely eat fresh fruit.
Fruit is a rich source of potassium, dietary fibre, antioxidants and various other potentially active compounds, and contains little sodium or fat and relatively few calories.
The results of the international study indicated that a 100g portion of fruit per day reduced about one-third of death by heart related diseases in both men and women.
The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the result of a seven-year study of half a million adults in China, where fresh fruit consumption is much lower than in countries like the Britain or US.
"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 lead author Huaidong Du from University of Oxford in Britain.
Fruit consumption, mainly apples or oranges was also associated with many other factors, such as education, lower blood pressure, lower blood glucose, and non-smoking, the researchers noted.
"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," said one of the researchers Zhengming Chen, professor at University of Oxford.
The team conducted a large, nationwide study of 500,000 adults from 10 urban and rural localities across China, tracking health through death records and electronic hospital records of illness.
The participants did not have a history of heart diseases or anti-hypertensive treatments when they first joined the study.