If everyone over the age of 50 ate an apple a day, 8,500 deaths from heart attacks and strokes could be avoided every year in the UK, say researchers.

Apples would give a similar boost to cardiovascular health as medicines, such as statins, yet carry none of the side-effects, the University of Oxford researchers say in the BMJ.

They base their assumptions on modelling, not direct scientific study.

Any fruit should work, but getting people to comply could be challenging.

 “It just shows how effective small changes in diet can be, and that both drugs and healthier living can make a real difference in preventing heart disease and stroke.”

More than two-thirds of adults do not eat the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day, population surveys suggest.

And although nine in 10 of us do manage to eat at least one portion a day, Dr Adam Briggs and colleagues, from the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University, say we would all benefit from eating more.

By their calculations, if adults of all ages could manage to eat an extra portion of fruit or veg a day, as many as 11,000 vascular deaths could be averted each year.

NUTRITIONAL COMPOSITION of an apple

  • Energy: 35.4kcal
  • Fat: 0.09g
  • Saturated fat: 0.02g
  • Monosaturates: 0.01g
  • Polyunsaturates: 0.05g
  • Cholesterol: 0.00mg
  • Fibre: 1.39g
  • Salt: 0.00g

The Victorian mantra of "an apple a day" to keep the doctor away is particularly important for the over-50s, who are at increased risk of vascular diseases, say the researchers.

They analysed the effect on the most common causes of vascular mortality - heart attacks and strokes - of prescribing either a statin a day, which lowers cholesterol, or an apple a day to people over 50.

Assuming at least seven in every 10 complied with the advice, statin drugs could save 9,400 lives and an apple a day 8,500 lives a year, they calculate.

The data their work rests on comprises a large body of medical trials and observations involving hundreds of thousands of patients.

Dr Briggs said: "The Victorians had it about right when they came up with their brilliantly clear and simple public health advice, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'

"It just shows how effective small changes in diet can be, and that both drugs and healthier living can make a real difference in preventing heart disease and stroke.

"While no-one currently prescribed statins should replace them for apples, we could all benefit from simply eating more fruit."

Dr Peter Coleman, of the Stroke Association, said everyone stood to benefit from eating a balanced diet.

"Apples have long been known as a natural source of antioxidants and chemical compounds called flavanoids, all of which are good for our health and wellbeing.

"This study shows that, as part of a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, a daily apple could help to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease”.

taken with kind permission from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25207033

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Words and definitions

stroke -a  stroke is a condition in which the brain cells suddenly die because of a lack of oxygen.A stroke can be caused by an obstruction in the blood flow, or the rupture of an artery that feeds the brain. The patient may suddenly lose the ability to speak, there may be memory problems, or one side of the body can become paralyzed.1

to boost – to improve, to make something better, to increase

side effects-  an effect, whether therapeutic or adverse, that is secondary to the one intended; although the term is predominantly employed to describeadverse effects, it can also apply to beneficial, but unintended, consequences of the use of adrug.

assumptions – assertions, claims

to comply – to harmonise, to conform to something; to obey guidelines or regulations; to agree to something

challenging -testing one's abilities; demanding

to prevent- to stop from happening, to preclude

five portions – consumption of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day

to benefit – to promote or enhance well-being; to be an advantage, to help, to aid

vascular deaths- deaths from vascular diseases and heart failures

to avert – to divert and avoid

nutritional – to do with nutrition, nourishment , eating habits

composition – texture, contents in chemical or biological terms

Victorian – from the time of Queen Victoria* TheVictorian EraofBritish historywas the period ofQueen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death, on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence for Britain.[1]Some scholars date the beginning of the period in terms of sensibilities and political concerns to the passage of theReform Act 1832. T

mantra- 1. a sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power. 2. a slogan, motif

at increased risk – at a much bigger risk than it would normally  be

common causes – the most frequent , the most usual

vascular mortality – death rate from vascular disease

to prescribe to order a medicine or other treatment.

to lower – to decrease, to reduce, to minimize, to diminish

cholesterol -from theAncient Greekchole-(bile) andstereos(solid) followed by the chemicalsuffix-olfor an alcohol, is anorganicmolecule. It is asterol(ormodifiedsteroid),and an essential structural component of animalcell membranesthat is required to establish propermembrane permeabilityandfluidity. Cholesterol is thus considered within the class oflipidmolecules.

to assume – to have an idea, to have a preconceived idea , to assert, to claim

to rest on – to rely on, to depend on,  to be upheld by

to comprise – to consist of , to contain

a body of medical trials -

to come up with – to think of , to conceive , to devise  

currently – now, at present

chemical compounds- a chemical compound is a chemical substance consisting of two or more different chemically bonded chemical elements, with a fixed ratio determining the composition.

wellbeing – good health , welfare

to reduce the risk – to lower the risk, to minimize the risk

heart disease or heart failureis a serious condition caused by the heart failing to pump enough blood around the body at the right pressure. It usually occurs because the heart muscle has become too weak or stiff to work properly. If you have heart failure it does not mean that your heart is about to stop working. It means that your heart needs some support to do its job, usually in the form of medicines. Breathlessness, feeling very tired and ankle swelling are the main symptoms of heart failure. However, all of these symptoms can have other causes, only some of which are serious. The symptoms of heart failure usually develop quickly (acute heart failure), but they can also develop gradually (chronic heart failure).

taken with kind permission from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25413939

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