Even as nutritional advice has evolved, one tenet has remained: fruits and vegetables are essential for maintaining optimal health and wellness.
And a new study has linked fresh fruit to a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the seven-year study of 500,000 adults in China, found that people who eat fruit most days had healthier hearts than people who skipped it.
It also found that men and women who ate a 100 gram serve of fruit each day had a one-third lower rate of mortality.
Led by the University of Oxford and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, the study found that eating fruit (mostly oranges or apples) was closely tied to non-smokers, education, and lower blood pressure and blood glucose.
So why is this remarkable?
"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," said Professor Zhengming Chen, Nuffield Department of Population Health.
So what fruits should we be eating for a healthy heart? You can chow down on:
- Tomatoes: the essential nutrients may prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Apples: a study of over 34,000 women for 20 years found apples reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.
- Berries: Around a cup of berried each day increases the "good" HDL cholesterol and reduces blood pressure.
- Pomegranates: lowers plaque build-up in arties and reduces blood pressure.
- Bananas: the high potassium content helps maintain healthy heart function and blood pressure.