Eat Citrus to Lower Your Stroke Risk

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GrapefruitThis article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

A new study indicates citrus may lower stroke risk, at least in women. The investigation published in Stroke analyzed data from over 69,000 women during a 14-year period. The results showed that those who consumed the most flavanones, plant compounds found in the greatest concentration in oranges and grapefruit, had an ischemic stroke risk 19 percent lower than those who ate the least flavanones.[1]

Ischemic strokes refer to those that are caused by a blockage in the blood flow to the brain.[2] Although hemorrhages and other factors can cause strokes, ischemia is the most common cause, responsible for approximately 88 percent of these medical events. Strokes of all etiology are the chief cause of long-term disability and the third-leading cause of death in the United States.[3]

Doctors generally recommend consuming fruit in whole form rather than in juice, so you get the benefit of fiber and avoid the high concentration of sugar and calories found in commercial products.

Lead author Aedin Cassidy states that while much research has focused on vitamin C, the current study shows that other bioactive components of citrus may produce this cardioprotective effect.[4] She explains that earlier animal and test tube research show some flavanones have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. Some of these nutrients are able to cross the blood brain barrier and enter the brain, allowing this vital organ to receive their beneficial effects.

Investigators conducted the study through using food frequency questionnaires every four years, and correlating the dietary data with the incidence of stroke, which was confirmed through medical tests. The findings showed that flavanone intake from citrus correlated inversely to stroke risk, with the highest intake associated with the lowest risk.

Researcher Kathryn Rexrode describes the study as supporting the conclusion that flavanones are linked to a modest lowering of stroke risk. However, she does not advise people to take flavanone supplements at this point and recommends further research be conducted to confirm the findings.

And a spokesperson for the American Heart Association says the study corroborates the public health advisory that consuming a diet plentiful in an assortment of fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk of heart and blood vessel disease.[5]

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[1] Cassidy A et al. Dietary Flavonoids and Risk of Stroke in Women. Stroke. 2012 Feb 23. [Epub ahead of print.]



[4] Anderson P. Flavanones in Citrus Fruit May Lower Stroke Risk. Medscape Medical News. 2012.

[5] Boyles S. Citrus Fruits May Lower Women’s Stroke Risk. WebMD Health News. 2012 Feb 23.

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