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White flesh fruit could reduce stroke risk

19th September 2011

An apple -- or pear, or cauliflower -- really could keep the doctor away, according to researchers in the Netherlands.

appleandweight

Researchers writing in the journal Stroke say that eating fruit and vegetables with white flesh could cut the risk of a stroke by as much as 52%.

The Dutch study could not explain why, but they found that people who ate lots of apples, pears, bananas or cauliflower were less likely to have a stroke.

In a study that took in more than 20,000 adults over the course of a decade, the participants answered detailed questions about their eating habits and general lifestyle information.

Researchers then tracked their health over the next decade, looking in particular at the link between the colour of fruit and vegetables people ate, and the incidence of stroke.

The results showed that consuming 25g daily of white fruits or vegetables was linked to a 9% lower risk of stroke.

At the start of the study, none of the people had been diagnosed with heart disease or stroke.

After 10 years had passed, 233 of the subjects had had strokes.

But the group of people who ate the most white fruits and vegetables also had the lowest risk of stroke.

By contrast, no link was found between risk of stroke and the amount of green leafy vegetables, or red and purple fruits and vegetables.

As the consumption of the white fruit and veg rose, so did the level of protection.

White-fleshed fruit and veg also included chicory and cucumbers, according to the study, but not potatoes, which were classed as a starch.

White fruits and vegetables get their colour from plant compounds like carotenoids and flavonoids.

One possible candidate for the link to a lower stroke risk was quercetin, which is also found in onions, experts said.

Lead author Oude Griep, of Wageningen University, said it was hard to say exactly why the colour of the fruit and vegetables mattered, and called for further studies to explore this factor.

But she recommended eating an apple a day as an easy way to increase a person's intake of white vegetables or fruits.

Stroke experts said people should not reject other colours of fruit and vegetables, however.

According to Sharlin Ahmed from the UK's Stroke Association, all fruit and vegetables have health benefits and were still an important part of a healthy and balanced diet.

She said a diet low in salt and saturated fat, together with regular exercise, were important in reducing stroke risk.

Regular blood pressure checks, and the careful control of blood pressure, were also crucial, she said.


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