Senior author Dr. Yan Qu of the Qingdao Municipal Hospital and professor at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Qingdao, China, and colleagues at the Hiser Medical Center in Qingdao and Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics at the Medical College of Qingdao University conducted a meta-analysis of 20 studies published over the last 19 years, involving data from 760,629 men and women who had 16,981 strokes.
The study, published in the journal Stroke, found stroke risk decreased by 32 percent for every 200 grams -- or 21 ounces, or about two smallish apples -- of fruit eaten daily and 11 percent with every 200 grams of vegetables eaten daily. Citrus fruit, apples, pears and leafy vegetables might contribute added protection against stroke.
The researchers factored in smoking, alcohol, blood pressure, cholesterol, physical activity, body mass index and other differences in diet and found the findings remained the same.
"Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population," Qu said in a statement. "In particular, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is highly recommended because it meets micronutrient and macronutrient and fiber requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements."
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats that give bodies fuel, while micronutrients provide vitamins and trace minerals such as iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc and molybdenum.
Stroke is the leading cause of death in China claiming some 1.7 million people in 2010 and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.