How much fruit do you need to eat daily to make a difference?

CC BY 2.0 Gabriel S. Delgado C./flickr

According to a big new study in China, even just a small amount of fresh fruit daily was associated with decreased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Your mom was right, if she harangued you to eat your fruit and vegetables that is – and while it's no secret that fresh produce is good for health, now mom wisdom has been backed up again by science.

Researchers from University of Oxford and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences tracked 500,000 adults from 10 urban and rural areas across China for seven years and found that those who ate fresh fruit on most days were at lower risk of heart attack and stroke than people who rarely ate fresh fruit.

Eating fresh fruit – mainly apples or oranges – was strongly associated with other factors like education, lower blood pressure, lower blood glucose, and not smoking. But even after accounting for that, they concluded that just 100 grams of fruit per day was associated with about one-third less cardiovascular mortality. The association was alike in all areas and for both men and women.

So often when you read about the benefits of eating something the amount required is prohibitive; but just 100 grams could hardly be easier. It is the equivalent of about 3.5 ounces, which ends up being, roughly, just more than half an apple or a small orange or eight medium strawberries.

We talk a lot about processed food here at TreeHugger – how it’s not good for bodies or the planet. And while we all probably know that eating an apple is better than eating a bag of chips, it is eye-opening to see such a significant associated health benefit confirmed. Especially based on consuming such a manageable amount.

As senior author, Professor Zhengming Chen, University of Oxford, UK, says: If eating more fresh fruit really does have a protective effect, 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."

It’s very hard not to cave to cliché here, but really, an apple a day … you know.

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