Some of the best diet advice you can follow is to eat the rainbow, meaning you should consume every color of fruit and vegetable out there. Doing so will help you take in a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that keep disease at bay. But what about white-colored produce, like pears, apples, and turnips? You might think that a lack of color means a fruit or veggie has fewer health benefits, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Research shows that white vegetables and fruits may reduce your risk of a stroke.
We probably don’t need to remind you that a stroke – which is most commonly a blockage in an artery supplying oxygen-rich blood to the brain – is a deadly health condition. So, finding ways to reduce your risk will give you the chance of a long, healthy life.
The Link Between White Produce and Lower Stroke Risk
According to a study published in the American Heart Association Journal (AHA Journal), the bright colors of our fruits and vegetables reflect the presence of antioxidant-rich plant compounds. They include carotenoids, anthocyanidins (a type of flavonoid), and other flavonoids. Carotenoids make up yellow, orange, and red pigments, while anthocyanins give off purple, blue, and red hues. However, some flavonoids are pale yellow or colorless. As a result, light yellow or white fruits and veggies often have just as many antioxidants and nutrients as colorful produce.
With this in mind, the research team behind the AHA Journal study wanted to know which fruits and vegetables, based on color, could best reduce the risk of stroke. The investigation included over 20,000 participants between 20 and 65 years old. None of them had cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. All participants completed a food questionnaire that asked how often they ate over 170 different foods. From there, the researchers determined how many fruits and vegetables each participant ate, and how many of each color.
The team divided fruits and veggies into four color groups: green, orange and yellow, red and purple, and white. White produce included garlic, leek, onion, apples, pears, apple juice, apple sauce, banana, cauliflower, and cucumber.
The researchers made sure to account for factors that could distort the data, like cigarette usage, alcohol intake, educational level, and physical activity. After following the participants for 10 years, they learned that green, orange, yellow, red, and purple fruits and vegetables were not linked to a lower risk of a stroke. However, white vegetables and fruits reduced the risk by 9 percent. This might not seem like much, but it’s still significant. It suggests that certain nutrients in those fruits and veggies play an important role in cardiovascular health.
The Power of White Vegetables and Fruits
Why might white fruits and veggies help lower the risk of a stroke? First, they are high in dietary fiber. Eating a diet high in fiber may help lower blood pressure and reduce your blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, as explained in additional research from the AHA Journal.
In addition, apples, garlic, onions, leeks, bananas, cauliflower, and cucumber all contain quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonol with powerful antioxidant properties that can reduce inflammation and boost immunity. Plus, a study from the Journal of Nutrition found that quercetin may reduce blood pressure in people who are hypertensive. While pears have only a small amount of quercetin, they are rich in anthocyanins, which may also reduce LDL cholesterol.
If you want to reduce your stroke risk, adding more white fruits and vegetables to your diet can’t hurt! The AHA recommends eating four servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables per day. If just one daily serving of each is white in color, you can do a world of good for your cardiovascular health.