Dreaming of a white Christmas? Dream up some white fruit and veggies, and you’ll lower your stroke risk dramatically, new research suggests. Strokes result when blockages reduce blood flow to the brain. The leading cause of long-term disability, affecting nearly 800,000 Americans annually, strokes are also the third leading cause of death. We know that eating more fruit and vegetables in general helps to lower stroke risk — but a new study looks at what color of fruit might provide the biggest benefit.

The Dutch study, published in Stroke, divided produce into four color groups: green, orange/yellow, red/purple and white. Administering food questionnaires to 20,069 adults (average age 41), researchers then compared incidence of stroke over a 10-year period with prevalence of the variously colored fruit and vegetables in subjects’ diets. Only the white group of fruit and veggies (including bananas, pears, apples, mushrooms, cucumbers, cauliflower and chicory) was associated with significant protection – a full 52% lower risk among those with the highest intake of such ivory edibles.

One of the most popular “white” fruits — bananas — contain nutrients that have been linked with other potential health benefits. Their 41% vitamin B6 may help support DNA repair, while their 33% vitamin C has been shown to help neutralize the free-radical damage associated with alcoholic liver disease. Compounds in bananas may help minimize colorectal inflammation, thus possibly lowering the risk of colon cancer. One way to enjoy bananas is to turn them into a decadent, soft-serve frozen treat with Yonanas — a machine that transforms frozen fruit into an ice cream-like consistency. Another is to treat yourself to Dole’s new Banana Dippers — slices of frozen banana dipped in mouth-watering dark chocolate: only 100 calories and provides 14% fiber, 10% iron and 8% vitamin C.

Published December 1, 2011