24/02/2012 07:18 GMT

Citrus Fruit May Lower Stroke Risk In Women, Finds Study

Eating citrus fruit such as oranges or grapefruit could reduce your chances of having a stroke, a study has found.

Researchers studied compounds called flavonoids, which are present in a vast array of foods including brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables as well as leafy greens and chocolate.

Previous studies have found that flavanoids can reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The research team from the University of East Anglia looked at 14 years worth of data from a study of 69,622 women who reported on their food consumption every four years.

It was found that those who ate foods containing a specific sub-group of flavanoids, called flavanones - found in oranges and grapefruits - were at lower risk of a stroke than those who consumed other sources of flavonoids.

"Studies have shown higher fruit, vegetable and specifically vitamin C intake is associated with reduced stroke risk," said Dr Aedin Cassidy, professor of nutrition at UEA's Norwich Medical School and author of the study.

"Flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms, including improved blood vessel function and an anti-inflammatory effect."

A previous study found that eating white-fleshed fruit such as apples and pears on a daily basis could reduce the risk of a stroke by half.

Dr Sharlin Ahmed, from the Stroke Association, said, as reported by the Press Association: "We all know that eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg is good for our health.

"This study suggests that eating citrus fruits in particular, such as oranges and grapefruits, which are high in vitamin C, could help to lower your stroke risk.

"However, this should not deter people from eating other types of fruit and vegetables as they all have health benefits and remain an important part of a staple diet."

To further reduce the risk of stroke, The Stroke Association suggests regular blood pressure checks, quitting smoking, reducing your alcohol and salt intake and taking regular exercise.

Incorporate the following flavanoid-rich foods into your diet to help cut your risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes...

Diabetes Superfoods