A study recently carried out at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom and published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association reveals that a compound found in citrus fruit can help lower the risk of ischemic stroke. The research showed that women who consumed high amounts of oranges and grapefruit had a 19 percent lower risk of stroke than women who did not regularly consume any citrus fruit.
Citrus flavonoids improve brain blood flow
The study looked at how a very specific subclass of flavonoids founds in citrus fruit impacted on the risk of stroke. Flavonoids are phytochemicals that are generally responsible for the yellow, red and blue pigmentation in fruits and vegetables, and can also be found in tea, wine and cacao. Numerous studies have shown that flavonoids have a powerful antioxidant potential, surpassing even vitamins C and E. Scientists have recently discovered that flavonoids may even trigger mechanisms inside the body that inhibit tumor growth. While all plant foods are sources of flavonoids, they are highly concentrated in citrus fruits, onion, berries, parsley, green tea, red wine and dark chocolate (with a very high pure cacao content).
Earlier studies had suggested that citrus flavonoids have beneficial effects on capillary permeability and blood flow. Lead study author and nutrition professor, Aedin Cassidy, talked about taking this research a step further. “Studies have shown higher fruit, vegetable and specifically vitamin C intake is associated with reduced stroke risk. Flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms, including improved blood vessel function and an anti-inflammatory effect,” she explained.
Oranges proved most effective against stroke
Dr. Cassidy’s team looked at 14 years worth of research data, which included reports from nearly 70,000 women who had detailed their dietary habits. The women mentioned their fruit and vegetable intake every four years. The researchers then investigated the relationship among six main classes of flavonoids and the risk hemorrhagic, ischemic and total stroke. Since the various types of flavonoids are biologically different, no association was found between total flavonoid intake and stroke risk. However, when the researchers looked closely at each sub-class, they discovered that citrus flavonoids can significantly lower the risk of ischemic stroke.
Although the participating women had primarily consumed orange and grapefruit juice, the science team recommends that people eat the entire fruits, as they have less sugar and considerably more fiber than commercially available fruit juices.
A number of other studies have also turned to the relationship between citrus consumption and intracerebral hemorrhage. One of the studies found oranges to be more effective against stroke than other fruits, while another one revealed that pears and apples also promote capillary health and improve brain blood flow. In spite of this data, Dr. Cassidy believes more research is needed to confirm the association between specific flavonoids and the risk of stroke, as well as to understand why such an association occurs.
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Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. In 2010, Michelle created RawFoodHealthWatch.com, to share with people her approach to the raw food diet and detoxification.