Background and purpose: To date, few studies have examined associations between the wide range of flavonoid subclasses and risk of ischemic, hemorrhagic, and total stroke.
Methods: We conducted a prospective study among 69 622 women from the Nurses' Health Study. Total flavonoid and subclass intakes were calculated from semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires collected every 4 years using an updated and extended US Department of Agriculture flavonoid database.
Results: During 14 years of follow-up, 1803 incident strokes were confirmed. After adjusting for potential confounders, women in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of flavanone intake had a relative risk of ischemic stroke of 0.81 (95% CI, 0.66-0.99; P=0.04). Citrus fruits/juices, the main dietary source of flavanones, tended to be associated with a reduced risk for ischemic stroke (relative risk, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.77-1.05) comparing extreme quintiles.
Conclusions: Total flavonoid intake was not inversely associated with risk of stroke; however, increased intake of the flavanone subclass was associated with a reduction in the risk of ischemic stroke. Citrus fruit consumption may be associated with a reduction in stroke risk, and experimental data support these epidemiological associations that the flavanone content of citrus fruits may potentially be cardioprotective. Further prospective studies are needed to confirm these associations.