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Issue 149: Apples & Pears

Dance Fever

We’ve all heard about “apples” and “pears” as far as body shape and which one may be healthier. If a new study is right, however, we may be hearing even more about apples and pears—the food, that is.

Why? A study done by researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association and indicates that fruits with white insides, like apples and pears, can significantly reduce the risk of stroke. It’s the first study to observe the link between fruit and vegetable color groups and stroke risk, explain the authors.

We already know the many benefits of a diet filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables, but this particular study compared fruits and veggies of varying colors to see which ones would be the most effective in stroke prevention. The following food groups were included:

• Cabbages, lettuces and other dark green leafy vegetables
• Orange and yellow colors, most of which were citrus fruits
• Red and purple colors, most of which were red vegetables
• White colors, with apples and pears making up 55 percent of the whites

The study included 20,069 adults with an average age of 41—none of whom had any cardiovascular unhealth at the time the study began. Additionally, all of the participants had to fill in a 178-item food frequency questionnaire. The scientists followed up on the participants after 10 years, during which time they documented 233 strokes. Interestingly, the researchers found that white fruits and vegetable—apples, pears, cucumbers, chicory, cauliflower and bananas, but not potatoes—lowered the risk of having a stroke by 52 percent. 

What’s more is that they found that increasing your white fruit and vegetable consumption by 25 grams, gave a 9 percent reduction in stroke risk. Just to get an idea of the impact of this, an average apple weighs 120 grams. That translates into every quarter apple you eat giving you close to 10 percent less chance of having a stroke. As an added bonus, pears and apples are rich in dietary fiber as well as a flavonoid called quercetin.

This could have far-reaching effects, too, because strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, with nearly 144,000 people dying from strokes each year. Nearly 795,000 people suffer from strokes annually, however, leaving 650,000 people to deal with the outcomes of a stroke for the remainder of their lives. Post-stroke health effects can range from difficulty moving one side of the body, trouble speaking or swallowing to difficulty with bowel and bladder control, loss of cognitive function, the inability to walk or use arms or legs to not being able to speak again.

The authors of this study say that their study should be confirmed by further research, but Linda Oude Griep, M. Sc., asserts, “To prevent stroke, it may be useful to consume considerable amounts of white fruits and vegetables. For example, eating one apple a day is an easy way to increase white fruits and vegetable intake.”

Maybe there really is something to that “apple a day” advice.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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