By Michael A. Smith, MD
Nothing is more frightening then a sudden numbness or loss of function in an extremity. If this ever happens to you, please go to the ER immediately — it could be a stroke. The faster you seek help, the better your prognosis will be.
But how about increasing the odds of avoiding this sort of horrible medical emergency entirely? It turns out that fruits with white flesh may dramatically decrease the risk of stroke. Below, we'll take a look at the study that has revealed this exciting breakthrough.
Apples and Pears Prevent StrokesDutch researchers followed over 20,000 healthy people for 10 years and found that white flesh fruits — like apples and pears — significantly reduced the risk of stroke by 52%.1 The researchers believe it’s the antioxidant quercetin that provides this dramatic risk reduction. As it turns out, white flesh fruits are loaded in quercetin.
In the 10 year period, 233 strokes were reported, with the incidence of stroke 52% lower in people who consumed the most white flesh fruits. The two types of fruits most consumed, not surprisingly, were apples and pears.
The researchers calculated that for every 25 gram per day increase in white flesh fruits, there was a 9% drop in overall stroke risk. This reduction in stroke was not linked to other fruits or vegetables, like leafy green vegetables or citrus fruits.
The authors were pretty confident with their results. As they reported, “We adjusted for potential [stroke] risk factors as well as for important food groups.” But, of course, they are also calling for further studies to verify their results.
The takeaway here is that they concluded that a high intake of white fruits and vegetables could protect against stroke.
Quercetin Provides the Stroke Reducing BenefitQuercetin is an antioxidant found in white flesh fruits that’s well-known to support cellular health and function. In cell culture studies, it has been shown to inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines,2,3 which may play a part in blood clotting and clogged arteries — which are the cause of most cases of stroke.
Rich sources of quercetin include the following:
- Green & Black Tea
For this reason, adding a quercetin supplement to your diet will help you reach an optimal amount without having to overload on any single food source.
How much should you take? We typically suggest about 250 mg/day of a high quality quercetin supplement.
A Sample Stroke Prevention PyramidIf you’re looking to lower your own risk of stroke by supplementing with nutrients, below is an example regimen to consider.
You can think of your supplement regimen as a pyramid with three levels: foundation, prevention and optimization. Keeping that in mind, here’s an example of a supplement pyramid for stroke prevention:
- Foundation – high quality multivitamin, ubiquinol CoQ10 and omega-3 fats
- Prevention – quercetin, pomegranate, garlic
- Optimization – green tea, vinpocetine
A Quercetin-Boosting Recipe: Low-Fat Apple Brown BettyHere’s a delicious recipe that can help add a healthy quercetin boost to your diet. The recipe below for a “Low-Fat Apple Brown Betty” comes courtesy of Maddie Ruud over at HubPages.com.4 Please note that we exchanged Splenda® for Truvia®, since we think it’s a healthier option:
- 2 cups lightly packed fresh white bread cubes
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- ½ cup Truvia®
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 cooking apples, peeled and cored
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spray 2-quart casserole dish with zero-calorie, fat-free nonstick cooking spray.
- Chop peeled, cored apples into slices or wedges. In small bowl, toss bread cubes with applesauce.
- In separate container, stir together sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Layer 1/3 of bread cubes in bottom of casserole dish, then cover with half the apples, and sprinkle with half the sugar mixture.
- Repeat layering.
- Mix water and lemon juice, pour over contents of casserole. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 of bread crumbs over top.
- Cover and bake 30 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes (or until apples are tender). Serve warm with vanilla frozen yogurt or low-fat, slow-churned ice cream.
- Stroke. 2011; 42: 3190-3195 Published online before print September 15, 2011, doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.110.611152.
- Arch Pharm Res. 2008 Oct;31(10):1303-11.
- Neuroimmunomodulation. 2006;13(3):179-86.
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