Strong Heart, Healthy Body: Three New Studies Highlight Apples’ Multiple Benefits

New research shows apples’ role in improving heart health and weight management

There’s a reason the tried, true—and, one could even argue, trite—adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is still around. But what isn’t arguable is this: Research report after research report confirms apples are a natural superfood packed with antioxidants and nutrients that contribute to good health.

As National Nutrition Month (March) approaches, three just-released studies suggest that adding apples to your daily fare is an easy way to keep your whole body in top shape while helping prevent life-threatening illnesses.

Among the new studies’ findings:

You Should Choose an Apple a Day Over Statins

In a recent debate in the BMC Medicine Journal, experts argued that statins do more harm than good, especially for those who do not already have heart disease. The experts also suggest that more than 80 percent of cardiovascular disease is attributable to environmental factors including unhealthy diets, smoking, alcohol use, and lack of physical activity. Rather than resort to statins as a primary method of prevention, experts advise people at low risk of developing heart disease would benefit from eating an apple a day to improve the condition of their hearts and prevent heart attacks, strokes and other vascular diseases. (BMC Medicine, 2016 14:4)

Apples Lower LDL Cholesterol and CRP Levels

The Arthritis Foundation this January reported further evidence that eating apples on a daily basis may lower levels of cholesterol, as well as C-reactive protein (CRP), a key marker of inflammation in the blood. In the study of 160 women 45-65, participants who ate three-quarters of a cup of dried apples every day for six months saw lower LDL (or, bad) cholesterol levels by 23 percent, as well as a 32 percent decrease in CRP compared to participants who ate a cup of prunes. Those who ate the dried apples also benefited from the increased intake of pectin, a soluble fiber found in apples. With a naturally-curbed appetite, this group lost an average of 3.3 pounds. (Arthritis Foundation, 2016)

Apples Help Maintain Optimal Weight Over the Long-Term

Researchers at Harvard University found a higher intake of foods rich in flavonols, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins and flavonoids, all of which are found in apples, was associated with less weight gain among adults 27-65 over a 24-year period. Consumption may also contribute to the prevention of obesity and its potential consequences. The study noted that even small amounts of weight gain—10 pounds or more—between 40-60 increased the risk of developing diabetes by 40-70 percent and several cancers by 24-59 percent. (BMJ 2016; 352: i17)

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