If you had any doubts about the benefits of eating whole fruit, you can put them to rest. A study out of China published in the New England Journal of Medicine (April 7, 2016, pp 1332-1343) reveals that a higher level of fruit consumption led to lower blood pressure and lower glucose levels. There was also a 30-40% reduction in death from heart disease, and of heart attack, and stroke, both from vessel occlusion and brain hemorrhage.
The greater the fruit intake, the lower was the risk. Apples, pears, and citrus fruits are the main fruits eaten in China, although average fruit consumption in China is generally quite low. Fruit is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, fiber, folate, antioxidants, and many phytochemicals with cardioprotective effects. Fruit is also low in calories, sodium, and fat. Raw vegetable intake in China is high, so it is interesting that adding fruits had substantial beneficial effect.
Questions arise about the intake of high glycemic fruits, those that raise blood sugar, like bananas, mangos, pineapples, dates and figs. In general I think it is better to include fruits with a lower glycemic index, that are higher in fiber content, like blueberries, strawberries, and cherries.
As always, we recommend buying organic fruits when possible. Fruits like strawberries are among the crops most heavily sprayed with insecticides. Many of our patients own fruit trees, offering a yearly harvest of apples, oranges, grapefruit, and lemons.
Allan Sosin, MD