Citrus fruits can reduce stroke risk in women

Nadine Watters
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New UK study shows that citrus fruit consumption can notably lower the risk of ischemic stroke in women. Researchers recommend the consumption of whole fruits for full health benefits.

New research from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK reveals that the consumption of citrus fruits, in particular oranges, can significantly lower the risk of ischemic stroke. Researchers found that women who consumed plenty of oranges and grapefruit had a lower risk of stroke when compared to women who did not regularly consume any citrus fruits.

An orange a day keeps strokes away

The study focused on the flavonoid content of citrus fruits, which was expected to have an impact on blood vessel health. Previous studies had already shown that specific orange phytochemicals can considerably improve blood flow in the brain and protect against intracerebral hemorrhage.

Flavonoids are yellow, red and blue plant pigments that were proven to have exceptional antioxidant and antitumorigenic properties. They are highly concentrated in citrus fruits, red onion, berries, green tea, cacao, red wine and parsley. As they are still a largely unfamiliar territory for scientists, flavonoids may have an array of other health benefits that the scientific community is not yet fully aware of.

Research author and professor of nutrition, Aedin Cassidy, explains: “Studies have shown higher fruit, vegetable and specifically vitamin C intake is associated with reduced stroke risk. Flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms, including improved blood vessel function and an anti-inflammatory effect.”

Citrus fruits improve brain blood flow

The science team reviewed roughly 14 years of data from the Nurse’s Health Study, which had tracked the progress of nearly 70,000 women who provided detailed information about their diets. To accurately measure the role of flavonoids, the researchers looked for correlations between six major flavonoid sub-classes and the risks of ischemic, hemorrhagic or total stroke. They found that women who consumed more orange and grapefruit juice had better blood circulation and had a 19 percent lower risk of blood clot-related stroke than women who did not consume citrus fruit.

Dr. Cassidy recommends the consumption of fresh, whole fruits instead of juices, adding that the fruits are nutritionally richer and have less sugar than commercially available citrus juices. Other studies evaluating the health benefits of flavonoids back up these claims. Two earlier studies found definite connections between fruit intake and a reduced risk of stroke. In addition, a study carried out in Sweden recently found that women with a high fruit, high citrus diet have a 50% lower risk of stroke than women on a low fruit diet.

Dr. Cassidy’s team concluded that although these results are promising, additional research is needed to determine the full impact of flavonoids on human health, as well as to understand why they are so healthy.

Sources for this article include:
(1) stroke.ahajournals.org
(2) www.sciencedaily.com
(3) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Image source: flic.kr

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