Apples live up to the old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Clinical studies prove it, at least for menopausal women.
According to a researcher at the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at The Florida State University, this common food is truly a "miracle fruit" that conveys benefits over and above its fiber content.
Dr. Bahram H. Arjmandi’s most recent research is the first to evaluate the long-term cardio-protective effects of daily consumption of apples in postmenopausal women.
This USDA-funded study randomly assigned 160 women ages 45-65 to one of two dietary intervention groups: one received dried apples daily (75g/day for 1 year) and the other group ate dried prunes every day for a year. Blood samples were taken at 3, 6 and 12-months.
The results surprised Dr. Arjmandi, who stated that "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." At the same time, HDL or "good cholesterol" increased by 4%.
Now the notion that there is "bad" and "good" blood lipids is known as the "lipid hypothesis," or "cholesterol myth." Cholesterol is not a good indicator of heart disease. The underlying causes of cardiovascular disease are likely more related to inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies, inflammation, and/or infections and environmental exposures.
But if you have a doctor who thinks cholesterol is a meaningful number, this fruit is a better idea than a drug to get your numbers down. Statins have been shown to increase diabetes risk in menopausal women.
There are other good reasons to eat an apple every day. Daily consumption in the study also led to a lowering of lipid hydroperoxide levels (or oxidation of fats, a risk factor in adverse cardiovascular events) and C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) in those women.
Previous animal studies had already shown that polyphenols in apples improve fat metabolism and lower the production of pro-inflammatory molecules.
Polyphenols are antioxidants in plants that work by eliminating free radicals which can lead to premature aging, cancer and other diseases. Flavonoids are a class of polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables. Another class consists of tannins, which are found in wines, teas and fruits.
Another advantage to eating apples is weight loss according to the researchers. Despite the extra 240 calories per day consumed, the women in the study did not gain weight, and in fact, they lost on average 3.3 pounds.
Part of the reason for the weight loss could be the fruit’s pectin, a water-soluble fiber, which is known to create a feeling of satiety. Pectin is a thickening agent used in cooking and is also found in plums and pears.
In the body, pectin helps regulate the flow of water in between cells and keeps them rigid. It is very helpful for people suffering with irritable bowel syndrome or diarrhea because it provides a thickening agent in the gut.
Prior studies had already shown many amazing qualities for ordinary apples.
In particular, they:
All in all, great reasons to have your apple today. Or even two.