Eating citrus fruits 'may cut stroke risk'
Eating citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit may help to reduce the risk of women having a stroke, new research suggests.
Scientists looked at a range of compounds called "flavonoids" which are present in foods including fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine and are believed to be beneficial to blood vessels.
The team from the University of East Anglia found that women who ate high amounts of citrus fruits containing a specific type of flavonoid had a 19% lower risk of suffering blood clot-related (ischemic) stroke than women who consumed the least amounts.
"Studies have shown higher fruit, vegetable and specifically vitamin C intake is associated with reduced stroke risk," said Dr Aedin Cassidy, professor of nutrition at UEA's Norwich Medical School and author of the study.
"Flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms, including improved blood vessel function and an anti-inflammatory effect."
Dr Cassidy and her team used 14 years' worth of data from a study of 69,622 women who reported their food intake, including details on fruit and vegetable consumption, every four years.
They found that those who consumed foods with a sub-group of compounds called flavanones, which are found in oranges and grapefruits, were at a lower risk of stroke than people who consumed other sources of flavonoids.
They recommend that people eat the fruit rather than drink juices, because of "the high sugar content of commercial fruit juices".
Previous studies have also shown a link between increased consumption of white fruits like apples and pears with lowered stroke risk.
Dr Sharlin Ahmed, from the Stroke Association, said: "We all know that eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg is good for our health.
"This study suggests that eating citrus fruits in particular, such as oranges and grapefruits, which are high in vitamin C, could help to lower your stroke risk.
"However, this should not deter people from eating other types of fruit and vegetables as they all have health benefits and remain an important part of a staple diet."
More studies are needed to confirm the association between flavanone consumption and stroke risk, and to gain a better understanding about why the association occurs, Prof Cassidy said.