Older women who consume apples everyday were found to have an average of 23% reduced LDL cholesterol levels within six months and a 4% increase in HDL cholesterol, researchers from The Florida State University explained in the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting in Washington, D.C. The authors explain that apples really are a "miracle fruit".

Dr. Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD, and Professor Margaret A. Sitton write that there is much more to apples than just good fiber. Animal studies have demonstrated that pectin and polyphenols, two substances found in apples, enhance lipid metabolism and reduce the production of molecules that cause inflammation.

They say that theirs is the first study to assess what long-term cardioprotective effects eating apples everyday might have on older (postmenopausal) females.

160 females aged 45-65 years were randomly selected to receive either 75 grams of dried apples daily or dried prunes daily for a whole year. Their blood was examined in a laboratory at months 3, 6 and 12.

Within six months of the study Dr. Arjmandi was surprised. He said:

"Incredible changes in the apple-eating women happened by 6 months- they experienced a 23% decrease in LDL cholesterol (which is known as the "bad cholesterol)."

The apple-consuming women also had reduced levels of lipid hydroperoxide and C-reactive protein.

Dr. Arjmandi added:

"I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol by about 4%."

Cholesterol travels in the blood and is carried by lipoproteins - lipoproteins are any compound which contain fat (lipid) and proteins. The three main types are:
  • Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) - often referred to as bad cholesterol, which carries cholesterol from the liver to cells. If there are excessive amounts of LDL for the cells to use there can be a harmful accumulation of LDL, resulting in a significantly higher risk of developing arterial disease.
  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) - often referred to as good cholesterol. According to experts, HDL prevents arterial disease - it does the opposite of LDL. HDL removes cholesterol from cells and takes it back to the liver, where it is either broken down or expelled from the body.
  • Triglycerides - chemicals forms in which the majority of fat exists in the body (e.g. blood plasma) and in foods. Triglycerides, in association with cholesterol, form the blood fat (plasma lipids). Calories we eat but do not use up straight away by our tissues turn into triglycerides and are stored in fat cells. When we need energy and have not eaten, our fat cells release triglycerides which are used as energy.
Although the apples added another 240 calories to the women's daily food intake, they did not put any weight on, in fact they lost on average 3.3 pounds.

The authors wrote:

"Reducing body weight is an added benefit to daily apple intake."

Pectin, which is known to help make you feel full, may be a factor in the weight loss, the scientists believe.

The investigators say a multi-investigator nationwide study is needed to confirm their results.

This is one of several studies which back up the expression "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". Dr. Arjmandi is convinced that we all can benefit from consuming apples. He says that two-a-day might be even better.

Source: Experimental Biology 2011.

Written by Christian Nordqvist