An apple a day keep cardiovascular disease at bay. 

New research suggests daily fruit consumption lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by up to 40 percent, the European Society of Cardiology reported. 

"CVD, including ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and stroke, is the leading cause of death worldwide. Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for CVD risk reduction in the general population but the large majority of this evidence has come from western countries and hardly any from China," said Dr. Huaidong Du of Oxford. 

The findings come from a seven year follow-up study that looked at about 0.5 million people in the China Kadoorie Biobank; they found the more people ate fruit the more their CVD risk declined. 

"China has a different pattern of CVD, with stroke as the main cause compared to western countries where IHD is more prevalent. Previous studies have combined ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke probably due to the limited number of stroke cases in their datasets. Given their different physiology and risk factors, we have conducted the first large prospective study on the association of fruit with subtypes of stroke in Chinese adults from both rural and urban areas," Du said. 

The study looked at 451,681 participants with no history of CVD and who were not using anti-hypertensive treatments. Habitual consumption of fruit was categorized as; Never, monthly, one to three days per week, four to six days per week, and daily. Over the seven year follow-up period there were 19,300 of IHD and 19,689 strokes. About 18 percent of the participants consumed fruit daily and 6.3 never consumed fruit. 

When compared to the people who never ate fruit, those who consumed it every day cut their CVD risk by between 25 and 40 percent. 

"Our data clearly shows that eating fresh fruit can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including ischaemic heart disease and stroke (particularly haemorrhagic stroke). And not only that, the more fruit you eat the more your CVD risk goes down. It does suggest that eating more fruit is beneficial compared to less or no fruit," Du said. 

A previous analysis found those who ate fruit every day cut their overall risk of death by 32 percent when compared with those who did not eat fruit. 

"Our results show the benefit of eating fruit in the healthy general population and in patients with CVD and hypertension. Fruit consumption is an effective way to cut CVD risk and should not only be regarded as 'might be useful'. Policies are needed to promote the availability, affordability and acceptability of fresh fruit through educational and regulatory measures," the researchers concluded.