Women's health * Men's health * 50+ health * Healthy living

Apples and pears protect against stroke

Apples and pears protect against stroke White flesh fruit and vegetables most effective

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables with white flesh may protect against stroke, the latest research has found.

While previous studies linked high fruit and vegetable consumption with lower stroke risk, this study is the first to examine food colour groups and stroke.

The study, conducted at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, looked at the link between food colour group consumption and the incidence of stroke in a sample of 20,069 adults free of cardiovascular disease and aged 41 on average.

It found that the risk of stroke incidence was 52 percent lower for people with a high intake of white fruits and vegetables compared to people with a low intake.

Each 25 gram daily increase in the consumption of white fruits and vegetables was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of stroke. An average apple weighs 120 grams.

White fleshed apples and pears are high in dietary fibre and a pigment called quercetin. The other white flesh foods in the study included bananas, cauliflower, chicory and cucumber.

"To prevent stroke, it may be useful to consume considerable amounts of white fruits and vegetables," said lead author Linda M. Oude Griep.

"For example, eating one apple a day is an easy way to increase white fruits and vegetable intake."

However, she cautioned it is too early for doctors to advise patients to change their dietary habits based on the initial findings.

Commenting on the study results, Dr Heike Wersching from University of Münster in Germany, said: "The observed reduction in stroke risk might further be due to a generally healthier lifestyle of individuals consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables."

Dr Sharlin Ahmed of the The Stroke Association said: “It’s interesting to see that fruit and vegetables with white flesh, such as apples and pears, could reduce a person’s stroke risk more so than others.

"However, this should not deter people from eating other colours of fruit and veg as they all have health benefits and remain an important part of a stable diet. A lot more research is needed before the colour of our groceries alone is used to determine what health benefits they may have."

This article was published on Fri 16 September 2011

Image © yellowj - Fotolia.com

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