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23 October 2012
The old English adage goes that an apple before going to bed will make the doctor beg his bread. It seems unlikely that many doctors these days would be bankrupted as a result of nocturnal fruit consumption by the populace but the principle does remain that apples are a healthy snack food and a new study has heightened expectations what apples can do in regard to your cholesterol levels.
You probably know by now that LDL is the bad type of cholesterol and previous research has already shown us that apples lower LDL levels by up to 23 per cent within six months. You might not be as aware however, that LDL becomes really bad once it is oxidised. It is in the oxidised form that LDL begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. What this new study has shown is that apples can dramatically reduce this oxidation of LDL cholesterol and they can do it quite quickly.
For the study researchers recruited non-smoking healthy adults who had a history of not eating apples more than twice a month. The adults were aged between 40 and 60 and did not have a history of taking plant based supplements.
The subjects were then divided into three groups; one group ate either a red or golden delicious apple each day for four weeks, another group took a pill with 194mg of antioxidant polyphenols daily, and the third group took a placebo.
In the four weeks of the study an apple a day was found to reduce oxidised LDL levels by 40 per cent. This was significantly more than the effect of the polyphenol pill and according to researchers makes apples better at decreasing oxidation of LDL than other potent antioxidant foods like tomato, green tea, and the spice curcumin. It also seems from these results that it is more than the antioxidant content of apples that is having the effect. So it is probably the entirety of the apple: polyphenols, fibre, and all that conveys the healing effects.
An apple a day may not stem the medical economy, but it will certainly leave you feeling less seedy and that has to be appealing.