THURSDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Eating oranges and other citrus fruits may help reduce stroke risk, new research suggests.
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been linked with lower stroke risk in other studies, but researchers weren't sure why. For this study, they zeroed in on compounds called flavanones present in citrus fruits and found a winner.
"These data provide strong support for consuming more citrus fruits as part of your daily fruit and vegetable intake" to reduce the risk of ischemic [blood clot-related] stroke, said study leader Aedin Cassidy, head of nutrition at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in England.
It's possible that the flavanones in citrus fruits improve blood vessel function or reduce inflammation, which has been linked with stroke, the researchers said.
For maximum benefit, whole fruits are preferable to juice because they contain more flavanones and no added sugar, said Cassidy.
The study, published online Feb. 23 in the journal Stroke, was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Flavanones are a type of dietary flavonoid already associated with lower stroke risk. Besides fruits and vegetables, flavonoids are found in red wine and dark chocolate.
For this study, the researchers focused on six subclasses of flavonoids, including flavanones, to tease out the specific plant foods that help reduce stroke risk.
The researchers evaluated 14 years of follow-up data from the U.S. Nurses' Health Study. The new research involved nearly 70,000 women who reported their food intake every four years and included details on fruit and vegetable consumption.
During the follow-up, 1,803 strokes occurred. About half were blood clot-related, the study authors noted.
Total flavonoid intake did not reduce stroke risk, but intake of flavanones did, the researchers said. Wo
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