Fruits and vegetables were divided into four color groups, each based on the color of the "fleshy" portion of the fruits and vegetables: Green, orange/yellow, red/purple and white.
The only group that was associated with a statistically significant decrease in stroke risk was white fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables included in the white category were apples, pears, apple juice, apple sauce, bananas, cauliflower, chicory, cucumber and mushrooms. White fruits and vegetables were the most commonly consumed produce, with 36 percent of fruit and vegetable intake coming from the white group. Within the white group, apples and pears were the most commonly consumed, representing 55 percent of what was consumed.
For every 25-gram increase in the amount of white fruit consumed each day, the risk of stroke went down by 9 percent, according to the study. A typical apple is 120 grams, the researchers added.
Oude Greip said it's not clear exactly what components in white fruit might be protective for stroke, but she suspects that the dietary fiber and the flavonoids play a role. Apples and pears are high in a flavonoid called quercetin.
Jessica Shapiro, an associate wellness dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said, "Apples and pears are very good fruits. They're available year-round and are almost consistently good.
"As with any study, there are limitations. One is that the food intake was self-reported. Food frequency questionnaires are inherently biased because it's hard to remember exactly what you've eaten in the past. But, the positive thing to take from this is that everything we've been saying is confirmed again. Fruits and vegetables are good for you," she said.
Shapiro also said it would be difficult to single out what it is about white fruits that might reduce the risk of stroke. "It's really the whole foods. There's fiber and
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