You know the vitamin C in citrus fruits can help battle a case of the sniffles. New research, published in the journal Stroke, reveals that the benefits of citrus may stretch beyond warding off cold symptoms.
Researchers reviewed the food journals of nearly 70,000 women over a span of 14 years and found that those who ate the most citrus fruit (especially grapefruit and oranges) had the lowest risk of stroke, compared to individuals who ate less citrus. Other lifestyle and dietary factors may have been at play. High citrus consumers also exercised more, smoked less and had lower caffeine and higher fiber intake.
What’s the citrus-stroke connection?
A compound called flavanones, which is found in citrus fruit, may have been a key factor in reducing stroke risk, researchers report. In fact, women who ate the most flavanones had a 19 percent lower risk for a blood clot related to stroke, as opposed to women who ate the least.
How much citrus should you shoot for?
One piece of citrus fruit contains about 45-50 milligrams of flavanones. The study found that participants with the lowest risk of stroke consumed more than 470 milligrams per day &mdash that’s a lot of citrus! Fortunately, you can still reap healthy rewards if you eat less.
Will other foods offer a similar benefit?
Red wine and dark chocolate also boast flavanones, but that doesn’t give you the green light to splurge. Drinking more than one glass of wine daily (or two glasses, if you’re male) has its downfall, as does eating more than one ounce of dark chocolate daily.
What should you do now?
This study gives you one more great reason to add citrus to your diet, if you don’t already. Yet, the findings still suggest that your diet is part of a comprehensive approach to reduce your stroke risk: Eat a variety of fruits and veggies, exercise daily, don’t smoke &mdash and order a “leeetle” dark chocolate for dessert.
Toby Amidor is a registered dietician and the owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition. She holds a master’s degree in clinical nutrition and dietetics from New York University. You can follow her on Twitter at @tobyamidor.