“An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away”
We have all heard this phrase and probably haven’t really believed it to be true. I know I have heard it a million times, but never realized ‘how’ an apple a day could be excellent for heart health. Phytosterols, (plant sterols) can help lower cholesterol levels, but do you know how apples can help lower LDL cholesterol levels?
Eating Apples Helps Prevent Atherosclerosis
Apples help promote better heart health because they contain antioxidants. LDL or bad cholesterol levels have the capacity to interact with free radicals. When this happens, the LDL becomes oxidized which will then trigger inflammation and lead to tissue damage.
Professor Robert DiSilvestro of Ohio State University explains that oxidized LDL cholesterol can lead to hardening of the arteries, a condition commonly called as atherosclerosis, but research demonstrated the capability of apples to fight against the oxidation of LDL and prevent the occurrence of atherosclerosis.
When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,” said 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. “We got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks. Source
Apples Contain the Most Powerful Antioxidants
Professor DiSilvestro says that eating apples every day can significantly reduce the number of oxidized LDL. Add to that no other antioxidants are just as effective as apples in providing such an effect.
- Other anti-oxidants being studied that were found to be less powerful than apples are tomato extract, curcumin and green tea.
- A Turkish study also mentioned that apples can indeed help increase the number of enzymes that act as antioxidants in a person’s body.
- According to Professor DiSilvestro, polyphenols may have been responsible for these effects provided by eating apples.
- Apples also contain many other bioactive compounds that all contribute to its positive effect on LDL cholesterol.
- Pectin is another substance found in apples which is also known for its cholesterol lowering effect.
Dried Apples and Prunes To Help Lower Cholesterol Levels
The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics published a study which revealed that those who ate apples for three months have lowered their total cholesterol levels for up to 9% and their LDL cholesterol lowered as much as 16%.
Part of the objective of the same study was to determine whether eating prunes would have the same effect. However, those who just ate prunes only experienced very slight lowering of cholesterol levels.
After a span of six months, those who continued to eat apples further lowered their cholesterol levels by up to 24%. That is a pretty significant drop don’t you think?
Therefore it certainly appears that eating apples contribute towards lowering LDL cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.
So perhaps the saying I grew up (and many of you too) really is true. Are you going to start eating an apple a day to lower your cholesterol levels?