Apple a Day Lowers Blood Chemical Linked to
Hardening of the Arteries
Apple industry group funded study finds apples
lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL -- low-density lipoprotein, the
Oct. 2, 2012 - Eating an apple a day might in fact
help keep the cardiologist away, new research suggests. In a study of
healthy, middle-aged adults, consumption of one apple a day for four
weeks lowered by 40 percent blood levels of a substance linked to
hardening of the arteries.
Taking capsules containing
polyphenols, a type of
antioxidant found in
apples, had a similar, but not as large, effect.
The study, funded by an apple industry group, found
that the apples lowered blood levels of
oxidized LDL --
low-density lipoprotein, the "bad" cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol
free radicals to become
oxidized, the cholesterol is more likely to promote inflammation and can
cause tissue damage.
DiSilvestro described daily apple consumption as
significantly more effective at lowering oxidized LDL than other
antioxidants he has studied, including the spice-based compound curcumin,
green tea and tomato extract.
Not all antioxidants are created equal when it
comes to this particular effect, he said.
DiSilvestro first became interested in studying the
health effects of eating an apple a day after reading a Turkish study
that found such a regimen increased the amount of a specific antioxidant
enzyme in the body.
In the end, his team didn't find the same effect on
the enzyme, but was surprised at the considerable influence the apples
had on oxidized LDL.
For the study, the researchers recruited nonsmoking
healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60 who had a history of eating
apples less than twice a month and who didn't take supplements
containing polyphenols or other plant-based concentrates.
In all, 16 participants ate a large Red or Golden
Delicious apple purchased at a Columbus-area grocery store daily for
four weeks; 17 took capsules containing 194 milligrams of polyphenols a
day for four weeks; and 18 took a placebo containing no polyphenols. The
researchers found no effect on oxidized LDLs in those taking the
"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," DiSilvestro said. "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."
Still, DiSilvestro said polyphenol extracts could
be useful in some situations, "perhaps in higher doses than we used in
the study, or for people who just never eat apples."
The study also found eating apples had some effects
on antioxidants in saliva, which has implications for dental health,
DiSilvestro said. He hopes to follow up on that finding in a future
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