Researchers say a compound in oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits may lower a woman's risk of stroke, WebMD reports. The study appears in the April issue of the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
Previous studies have shown that antioxidant compounds called flavonoids in fruits and vegetables may help prevent strokes. Flavonoids improve blood vessel function and have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. In a lovely bit of serendipity, they are also found in chocolate and red wine.
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In the new study, conducted at Boston's Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women's Hospital, the specific flavonoids found in citrus fruits, called flavanones, seem to give the greatest protection against strokes.
Researchers analyzed 14 years of follow-up data on nearly 70,000 female nurses who participated in a nationwide health study. The researchers didn't find a beneficial association between total flavonoid consumption and stroke risk. However, they did find that the women whose diets included the highest amount of flavanones had a 19 percent lower risk of suffering a blood-related stroke than women with the lowest intake of the compound. In the study, flavanones came primarily from oranges and orange juice (82 percent) and grapefruit and grapefruit juice (14 percent).
However, there is one caveat: Women need to be mindful of their grapefruit intake, because the fruit can sometimes cause dangerous interactions with medications commonly prescribed to lower heart attack and stroke risk.
Follow Samantha Bonar @samanthabonar.