Apple a day an overall heart healthy snack
Postmenopausal women who ate an apple a day gained heart healthy benefits and even lost weight in a study from food science researchers. In six-months, women age 45 to 65, lowered dangerous LDL cholesterol, raised beneficial HDL cholesterol levels and lost a few pounds from consuming dried apples. The study shows apples could be a heart healthy snack for everyone; not just women.
Surprising findings from researchers
The study result was somewhat of a surprise to researchers who discovered apples promoted healthy cholesterol levels in the women studied. Apples lowered C-reactive protein that is a marker of inflammation and linked to heart disease.
Dr. Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD, Margaret A. Sitton Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at The Florida State University who led the study said, “I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol by about 4%.” He said the results were “incredible”. In six months, the women experienced a 23 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol.
Are apples a miracle fruit?
Arjmandi says apples really are a “miracle fruit”. In the study, rather than gaining weight from calories in the fruit, women lost an average of 3.3 pounds, helping in the fight against obesity that can also lead to poor heart health. According to Dr. Arjmandi, the weight loss from eating apples might come from the pectin that satisfies hunger.
Past studies have shown apples might thwart cancer, boost immunity and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The new study, published in the FASEB journal, is the first to evaluate the long-term heart healthy benefits of apples for postmenopausal women. Animal studies have shown pectin and polyphenols in the fruit have cardiovascular benefits and boost lipid metabolism.
The randomized study included 160 women. One group ate dried prunes every day for a year and the other dried apples (75 g/day). The researchers took blood samples at 3, 6 and twelve months. After 6 months, LDL – the bad type – of cholesterol dropped 23 percent in the group given apples. Lipid metabolism improved. The women had lower levels of serum lipid hydroperoxide that is linked to coronary artery disease and risk for heart attack.
Dr. Arjmandi says, “There is frequently some truth behind our common expressions..." He says everyone, not just women, can benefit from eating apples In the study, postmenopausal women lost weight, improved their cholesterol profiles and lowered inflammatory markers in the blood stream that predict heart disease risk. Incorporating an apple into the diet every day can lower risk of heart disease, the authors conclude.
The FASEB journal
"Daily apple consumption promotes cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women"
Sheau C Chai, Shirin Hooshmand, Raz L Saadat and Bahram H Arjmandi
Image credit: Wikimedia commons