The Bright Summer Fruits That Can Lower Your Risk of Stroke

In All Health Watch, Featured Article, Heart and Cardiovascular, Stroke

Everyone knows that citrus fruits are great immune boosters.  But most people have no idea that an orange a day may keep a stroke away.

Or that grapefruit ranks among the highest in antioxidant flavonoids. These compounds may significantly reduce your risk of stroke.

A new study in the journal Stroke claims that citrus fruit can lower stroke risk by 19 percent.1 The study comes from Aedín Cassidy of Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia.

To date, few studies have examined the correlation of different types of flavonoids in relationship to the risk of stroke.2

But Cassidy did just that…

“Flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms,” she said. This includes improved blood vessel function and reduced inflammation.

Cassidy and her team monitored nearly 70,000 women over a 14-year span. They followed up with the subjects every four years.

They looked at what types of fruit and flavonoids the women ate. Then they discerned what correlation there may be with stroke risk.

The women whose diets were rich in citrus fruits had a reduced risk of ischemic stroke. This kind of stroke is caused by a blood clot that obstructs the flow of blood to the brain.

It certainly sounds promising.  But there’s just one, small problem with this study.

You shouldn’t take population trials as absolute proof. These studies make it difficult to isolate variables. They also often rely on questionnaires. As you can imagine, a person’s memory of what they ate over a period of years is not very reliable. For more conclusive proof, you must dig deeper.

The good news is that there is a sizeable body of research that confirms the results of the study published in Stroke.

Citrus fruit contains flavanones. These are a subclass of flavonoids. The two main flavanones at work in citrus are naringenin and hesperidin.

Researchers at the University of Western Ontario studied the effects of naringenin on mice. These mice were specifically bred to develop obesity and other signs of metabolic syndrome when they consumed a high-fat diet.

The mice were separated into two groups. Both groups ate a high-fat diet. But one group also consumed 3 percent naringenin. The mice that did not get the supplement developed high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and obesity. However, the mice that had the citrus compound did not exhibit any of these symptoms.

“The marked obesity that develops in these mice was completely prevented by naringenin,” said Murray Huff, who led the study.

The researchers also pointed out that the naringenin did not appear to work as an appetite suppresser. The rats all ate the same amount of food. Instead, it appears that their livers burned excess fat instead of storing it. The naringenin also reduced levels of insulin.

Obesity, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol can be associated with stroke. And this compound helped reduce these factors, thereby lowering the risk.

Christine Morand, Ph.D. led another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It showed how the other primary flavanone in citrus – hesperidin – can protect your blood vessels.3

In this study, men were either given 500 ml of orange juice, the drink plus hesperidin, or the drink plus a placebo. This occurred every day for four weeks.

The orange juice and the orange juice with hesperidin both improved blood circulation. This is vital to stroke prevention.

Bottom line:  Citrus fruit is vital to your health. In more ways than you ever imagined.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. And it is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability.4

Citrus fruit is widely available. And there are so many different types. Even squeezing lemon juice in your water is a good start.

Aedín Cassidy – the leader of the first study we covered – recommends two or three pieces of citrus per day. And to get more flavanones and fiber, eat the whole fruit.

So, the next time you’re at the store, be sure to pick up some oranges, lemons and grapefruit. These foods are powerful medicine. They might just save your life.


Stroke – The 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of long-term disability. Click to Tweet