Citrus and Stroke Risk: Good News For Fruit Fans

Although a diet higher in fruits and veggies has been linked with lower stroke risk in the past, new data indicates that a diet higher in citrus- oranges and grapefruits in particular- may reduce risk of ischemic stroke.

The study compiled data culled from nearly 70,000 women across 14 years, and researchers looked into the relationship between six flavonoids- flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonoid polymers, flavonols and flavones and the risk of ischemic, hemorrhagic and total stroke. What they ultimately found was that women who consumed higher quantities of citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits had a 19% lower risk of blood clot-related strokes.

The study was published in the journal Stroke and funded by the US National Institutes of Health, and a press release on the data read in part:

“Studies have shown higher fruit, vegetable and specifically vitamin C intake is associated with reduced stroke risk,” said Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and professor of nutrition at Norwich Medical School in the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom.

“Flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms, including improved blood vessel function and an anti-inflammatory effect.”

University of Miami epidemiologist Hannah Gardener was not involved in the research, but she commented on the study, saying:

“There are several studies that have shown that greater consumption of fruits and vegetables has been linked with reduced risk of stroke… It underscores the importance of fruit and vegetable intake… [further, it] provides evidence that citrus fruits in particular may be important in terms of reducing stroke risk.”

New dietary guidelines updated in 2011 indicate that fully half of daily food intake should be comprised of fruits and vegetables.