Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It kills nearly 130,000 people each year and account for one in every 18 deaths. The saddest thing about this reality is that strokes are wholly preventable, and recent research shows that apples could play a significant part in an anti-stroke diet.
Scientists with Wageningen University in the Netherlands found that apples and other fruits with white flesh (like pears) can have a significant impact on stroke risk, verifying the old adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away.
The researchers followed more than 20,000 adults for a period of ten years. All participants were free from cardiovascular disease including strokes at the onset of the study. Throughout the period, participants were surveyed on their food consumption.
Researchers separated fruits and vegetables by color in order to determine which had the most profound effect on stroke risk. They used a group of dark green leafy vegetables, a group of orange and yellow fruits, a group of red and purple vegetables, and those fruits with white flesh (apples and pears).
Throughout the study period, 233 strokes were documented. Though healthful, the researchers found absolutely no link between stroke risk and the consumption of orange and yellow fruits or red and purple vegetables. But, they found consumption of white-fleshed fruits to be associated with stroke risk reduction of about 52%.
There are several possible reasons for the risk reduction. Fruits like pears and apples are loaded with fiber, which is beneficial to heart health. They also have a high concentration of quercetin, which can reduce inflammation. Inflammation is associated with hardening of the arteries, which is a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
The researchers said their findings need to be confirmed with further research, but their study offers a great jumping off point. Adding an apple a day to your diet shouldn’t be difficult. Slice one on your breakfast or in your lunchtime salad. They are highly portable so stash one in your bag to have when hunger hits midday. The benefits of apples are many, but if they slash the risk of the number 3 killer, they are certainly worth making a daily habit of.