An Apple a Day May Keep Stroke Away
May 30, 2000 -- Mom was right yet again: Eat your fruits and veggies to stay
healthy. A study from Finland of a large population found that, indeed, those
who ate apples had a decreased risk of stroke.
Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants, substances that reduce the
amount of naturally occurring damage in the body -- damage that can lead to
everything from wrinkles to cancer. Specific antioxidants called flavonoids,
found in fruits and vegetables as well as tea and even chocolate, appear to
help guard against diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
The study, which looked at more than 9,000 men and women over a 28-year
period, set out to establish whether one ingredient, quercetin, found mainly in
apples, onions, and berries, could be associated with a decreased risk of blood
clotting -- a cause of stroke. The results of the study, reported in the May
issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicate that
apples, but not quercetin itself, may keep strokes at bay.
"In addition to quercetin, ... apples also include catechin and other
compounds that may explain the association," the researchers report.
"The suggestive protective effect of apple intake may thus be due to some
other substances in the fruit or simply to a lifestyle associated with apple
Eating fruits and vegetables as recommended by both the National Cancer
Institute and the American Heart Association has long been known to be a
healthy practice, Ishwarlal Jialal, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. "If people can
eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, they're doing a great job," he
says. "Tea, onions, apples, foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, ... are
still healthy; this is what the study is showing." Jialal is a professor of
internal medicine and pathology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center in Dallas and was not involved in the study.
Jialal cautions that studies designed like this one can be misleading, and
points to recent data that indicated beta-carotene might protect against lung
cancer. "And then when they supplemented [beta-carotene] in smokers and
asbestos workers, we got more incidence [of cancer]," he says.
"So I'm very, very skeptical. It's a nice hypothesis."
- Flavonoids are antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, and some other
foods that may protect against heart disease and stroke.
- New research shows that people who eat more apples have decreased blood
clotting, which is a cause of stroke.
- Apples, onions, and berries each contain a large amount of the flavonoid
known as quercetin, but researchers were unable to say that this exact
component was responsible for the effect on blood clotting.