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Citrus Flavonoids May Reduce Stroke Risk

Not all flavonoids are created equal, at least when it comes to reducing stroke risk. That's the news from a study published online ahead of print on February 23, 2012 in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Flavonoids are a class of compounds found in fruit, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine. The flavonoids in citrus fruits are in the flavanone categeory. According to the Norwich Medical School researchers, flavanones present in citrus fruit may dramatically reduce women's risk of ischemic stroke.

The researchers examined data from the Nurse's Health Study, which had 69,622 participants who were followed for 14 years. The women reported their food intake for the study and the researchers analyzed it to determine the association, if any, between flavonoid intake and stroke. They also looked at the relationship between the six main subclasses of flavonoids and the risk of ischemic, hemorrhagic and total stroke.

They found no association between general flavonoid intake and reduced stroke risk. However, high consumption of citrus fruit resulted in a 19% lower risk of ischemic (blood-clot related) stroke compared to low consumption.

Oranges and orange juice account for 82% of the citrus fruit consumed by participants in the study, while grapefruit and grapefruit juice accounted for 14%. The researchers suggest increasing citrus fruit intake rather than juice, as most juice has high sugar content.

Flavonoids are the naturally occurring antioxidants which have previously been shown to decrease inflammation, protect our DNA from damage, and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow. Try having fruit with yogurt for breakfast, a salad at lunch, and a glass of red wine followed by a small piece of dark chocolate at dinner to increase your flavonoid intake in a delicious way.

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