A compound in citrus fruits may reduce women’s stroke risk, a study has said.

The study examines how consuming flavonoid subclasses affects the risk of stroke, Xinhua reported.

Flavonoids are a class of compounds present in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine.

“Studies have shown higher fruit, vegetable and specifically vitamin C intake is associated with reduced stroke risk,” said Aedin Cassidy, lead author and professor of nutrition at the University of East Anglia in Britain.

“Flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms, including improved blood vessel function and an anti-inflammatory effect.”

The study was published on Thursday in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Cassidy and colleagues used 14 years of follow-up data from the Nurse’s Health Study, which included 69,622 women who reported their food intake, including details on fruit and vegetable consumption every four years.

Researchers examined the relationship of the six main subclasses of flavonoids commonly consumed in the U.S. diet — flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3- ols, flavonoid polymers, flavonols and flavones — with risk of ischemic, hemorrhagic and total stroke.

As expected, the researchers didn’t find a beneficial association between total flavonoid consumption and stroke risk, as the biological activity of the sub-classes differ.

However, they found that women who ate high amounts of flavanones in citrus had a 19 per cent lower risk of blood clot-related (ischemic) stroke than women who consumed the least amounts.

More studies are needed to confirm the association between flavanone consumption and stroke risk, and to gain a better understanding about why the association occurs, the authors said.