Epidemiological studies suggested that consumption of fruit and vegetables may protect against stroke. The hypothesis that dietary antioxidant vitamins and flavonoids account for this observation is investigated in a prospective study.
A cohort of 552 men aged 50 to 69 years was examined in 1970 and followed up for 15 years. Mean nutrient and food intake was calculated from crosscheck dietary histories taken in 1960, 1965, and 1970. The association between antioxidants, selected foods, and stroke incidence was assessed by Cox proportional hazards regression analysis. Adjustment was made for confounding by age, systolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol, cigarette smoking, energy intake, and consumption of fish and alcohol.
Forty-two cases of first fatal or nonfatal stroke were documented. Dietary flavonoids (mainly quercetin) were inversely associated with stroke incidence after adjustment for potential confounders, including antioxidant vitamins. The relative risk (RR) of the highest vs the lowest quartile of flavonoid intake (≥28.6 mg/d vs <18.3 mg/d) was 0.27 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.11 to 0.70). A lower stroke risk was also observed for the highest quartile of β-carotene intake (RR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.22 to 1.33). The intake of vitamin C and vitamin E was not associated with stroke risk. Black tea contributed about 70% to flavonoid intake. The RR for a daily consumption of 4.7 cups or more of tea vs less than 2.6 cups of tea was 0.31 (95% CI, 0.12 to 0.84).
The habitual intake of flavonoids and their major source (tea) may protect against stroke.(Arch Intern Med. 1996;154:637-642)