A new study of middle-aged adults found that eating one apple a day reduced blood levels of a substance linked to hardening of the arteries by forty percent.

Recently, different fruits have seen to making a great impact on heart health. These scientists found that apples lowered blood levels of iodized LDL (“bad” cholesterol). When LDL cholesterol mixes with free radicals to become chemically combined with oxygen, the cholesterol is more likely to encourage inflammation and can cause tissue damage.

Lead researcher Robert DiSilvestro, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University and a researcher at the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center explains:

“When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. We got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks.”

Apples have been previously seen to lower LDL cholesterol levels, especially in women. Researchers from Florida State University reported in April 2012 that older women who ate apples everyday experienced a 23% reduction in LDL cholesterol within six months.

DiSilvestro noted that apple consumption was much more effective at decreasing oxidized LDL than any other antioxidant-rich food, including tomato extract, green tea, and curcumin.

This study, published in Journal of Functional Foods, enlisted nonsmoking, healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60 who had a history of apple consumption that was less than twice a month, and also did not take plant-based concentrates or supplements with polyphenols.

In total, 16 participants ate one Red or Golden Delicious apple from a grocery store daily for four weeks; 17 took a pill containing 194 milligrams of polyphenols daily for four weeks; and 18 took placebos. In those taking the placebo, there was no beneficial result on oxidized LDLs.

DiSilvestro said:

“We think the polyphenols account for a lot of the effect from apples, but we did try to isolate just the polyphenols, using about what you’d get from an apple a day. We found the polyphenol extract did register a measurable effect, but not as strong as the straight apple. That could either be because there are other things in the apple that could contribute to the effect, or, in some cases, these bioactive compounds seem to get absorbed better when they’re consumed in foods.”

DiSilvestro believes polyphenol extracts may be more useful in higher doses than used in the study or by people who don’t routinely eat apples.

In the future, researchers hope to perform more studies on this subject, as well as follow up on a finding that apple consumption has an antioxidant effect in salvia, which could lead to breakthroughs in dental health.

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald