In recently published research, eating citrus fruits and their juices, particularly oranges and grapefruits has been associated with a lower risk of stroke.
Reduced stroke risk?
A study just published in Stroke, the journal of the American Heart Association, has drawn a strong connection between flavonoid-rich citrus fruits, especially oranges and grapefruits, with a reduced risk of stroke.
Flavonoids the key
Researchers have long studied the effect of flavonoids on our health. These are the antioxidant compounds in fruits and vegetables that give them their rich colours—and also many of their health benefits. These benefits are thought to be related to the ability of flavonoids to improve blood vessel function and to their anti-inflammatory effects.
For this study, researchers looked at the dietary habits of nearly 70,000 women enrolled in the US Nurses’ Health Study. Through questionnaires about lifestyle and medical history collected every four years, researchers calculated total flavonoid intake.
The women who ate high amounts of citrus in their diets—more than 470 mg a day—had a 19 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke than women who didn’t consume as much—about 150 mg per day or less. The higher flavonoid intake, particularly flavanone from citrus fruits, was specifically associated with the lower risk.
Eating whole fruit is best
As the researchers point out, eating the whole fruit is definitely preferable to its juice. Most juices contain fewer nutrients and often contain added sugar. “Given the higher flavanone content of citrus fruits and the sugar content of commercial fruit juices, public health recommendations should focus on increasing citrus fruit intake,” they recommended in the paper.
More research is needed
The researchers were also careful to point out that this research is preliminary and that randomized studies are necessary to be certain of the relationship.
In the meantime, peel an orange and indulge in its juicy goodness! Or try them in this delicious recipe: Citrus and Pomegranate Seed Cocktail.