When a person has high blood pressure, he or she is at a higher risk of getting a stroke or heart disease. In order to keep blood pressure within normal range, hypertensive patients often have to take their prescribed medications and adopt a healthy lifestyle including healthy diet and regular exercise.
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom reported that a diet rich in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits might lower women’s risk of getting a stroke.
The findings, which were published in the April 2012’s issue of ‘the Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association’, revealed that women who ate the most citrus fruit had a 19 percent lower risk of having an ischemic stroke than those who ate the least. Ischemic stroke occurs when a person’s blood flow to the brain is blocked, sometimes by clogged arteries.
Many other previous studies have examined the benefits of eating fruit in general and research has shown that compounds known as flavonoids, found in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine, might benefit health.
The researchers believed that not all flavonoids appear to have the same effect on stroke. That is why their study looked at different types of fruit.
69,622 women were followed for 14 years. They reported their food intake including details on fruit and vegetable every 4 years. When analyzing the participants’ diets, the researchers looked at 6 main subclasses of flavonoids (flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonoid polymers, flavonols and flavones).
There was no association found between overall flavonoids consumption and stroke risk, but flavanones in citrus were found to link to lower stroke risk. According to researchers, flavanones might reduce risk of stroke through several mechanisms. These include improving blood vessel health and preventing inflammation.
Some previous studies, however, reported contradicting results. For instance, one study discovered the link between increased consumption of white fruits such as apples and pears and lower stroke risk, but found no link for yellow and orange fruits.
As such, researchers felt that more studies are necessary to ascertain and understand the relationship between flavonone consumption and stroke risk.
While flavanones can also be found in citrus juices, researchers do not encourage people to drink more juice because these fruit juices tend to have plenty of sugar. Instead, eat more fresh citrus fruits.