A selection of citrus fruits
Most people have heard of flavonoids, the elements in some foods that can protect your heart, but most of the information is focused on the benefits of red wine, vegetables and dark chocolate. Now, research has revealed that citrus fruits have a particular type of flavonoid that could help reduce your risk of stroke by up to 19%.
Researchers from Norwich Medical School in the University of East Anglia assessed data from 14 years of research on nearly 70,000 women. The women had provided information on their diets every four years, giving details of their fruit and vegetable consumption. The researchers then looked at potential links between ingesting six different types of flavonoids – flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonoid polymers, flavonols and flavones – and the risk of suffering ischaemic or haemorrhagic stroke. They found that women who ate a lot of citrus fruits, which contain flavanones, had a 19% lower risk of ischaemic stroke than those who ate the least. Most of the flavanones the women consumed came via oranges or orange juice or grapefruit and grapefruit juice.
“There are many reasons to include citrus fruits in your diet,” says registered nutritionist Dr Carina Norris. “People usually think of vitamin C, but citrus fruits are also a useful source of many other nutrients, such as potassium, which can help to control blood pressure. I would recommend eating the whole fruit rather than relying on juice, however, as the fibre in fruit helps give a feeling of fullness. And what many people don’t realise is that by eating the skins of the segments, and the pith (which you eat a little of every time you eat the whole fruit), you get valuable amounts of pectin, plus antioxidant compounds called polymethoxyflavones, both of which can help lower cholesterol.”