This is the conclusion of joint research undertaken by scientists at the University of Navarra and the Navarre Health Service, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research was co-ordinated by Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, Professor of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Navarra and member of CIBEROBN.
Participating in the research were 7,216 persons; men between the ages of 55 and 75 and women between 60 and 75, and all with a risk of contracting cardiovascular disease. The patients were classified into five categories, according to their consumption of fibre and fruit. Those in the category of greatest consumption showed mortality rates of 37% and 41% respectively, lower than those in the category with the lowest consumption. This association was even closer amongst cardiovascular deaths.
According to the Director of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Miguel Ángel Martínez, “the most interesting thing we observed was that, for the first time ever in an epidemiological study, amongst those who consumed little fruit initially but later increased their daily consumption to just one apple a day, there was a significant reduction in their risk of mortality”.
The new research is a unique study, given that previous research only took into consideration the content of the total initial fibre and not repeated measurements through out the monitoring period. “In this case, moreover, the effect of the food itself (fruit, whole-meal cereals and other foods rich in fibre), was taken into account, as it is believed that other components in these foods could play an important role in the prevention of mortality”, explained the research coordinator, Dr. Pilar Buil-Cosiales, together with other professionals from the Navarre Health Service.
The project falls within the remit of PREDIMED, a collaborative research in which 19 scientific teams from Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Catalonia, Navarre, the Basque Country and Valencia are participating. This is the largest clinical trial in Spanish research and one of the main ones worldwide in terms of nutrition and diet. The goal is to evaluate if an extra virgin olive oil or nuts-supplemented Mediterranean diet prevents the onset of cardiovascular diseases (cardiovascular-origin death, heart attack or stroke), in comparison with a low-fat diet.
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