Eat white-fleshed fruits and veggies to ward off stroke

By Shayna Brouker • Published: December 29th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Looking to reduce your risk of stroke in this season stuffed with cookies, cocktails and other calorie-clogging treats? Next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to swing by the produce aisle and pick up a few pounds of these winter fruits: apples and pears.

Dutch researchers looked at self-reported dietary information from more than 20,000 people taken over a one-year period. In the decade following, a little more than 200 people had strokes. The results, which were published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, showed that the risk of stroke was 52 percent lower for those who noshed on apples and pears and lots of other white-fleshed fruits and vegetables like bananas, cauliflower, chicory and cucumbers. In fact, each 25 gram daily increase of white fruits and vegetables was linked with a 9 percent lower risk.

To put that in perspective, an apple is 120 grams of stroke-slashing sweetness.

The key, say scientists, is in the color. Focusing on the four main color groups of foods can steer you toward a healthful diet. Green includes dark leafy vegetables, peppers and lettuces; citrus fruits make up orange-yellow; red-purple includes berries and red vegetables, like beets; and of course, white. Nutritionists often advise “eating the rainbow” because color in the edible parts of fruits and veggies indicates the presence of disease-fighting phytochemicals.

While more research is needed, it’s hard to argue that you shouldn’t nosh on more fiber- and phytochemical-rich apples and pears. These winter fruits are perfect as a snack, mixed into salads and of course, baked into a scrumptious pie or tart. Enjoy a slice at the next holiday party knowing that a lot of fruit never hurt anyone — in fact, it could help you.