Middle aged woman eating whole, fresh apple.

Amazing apples: An apple a day can keep the cardiologist at bay

December 4, 2017 | BY BIOTRICITY

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. We couldn’t write a blog post about apples being good for your health without mention of the old proverb which, it turns out, is quite true. In 2013 researchers at Ohio State University found that eating one apple every day for just four weeks could lower blood levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, the “bad cholesterol”, by 40% in healthy, middle aged people.

A lesson on LDL Cholesterol

High LDL cholesterol levels can place you at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. The type of LDL particles circulating in your blood can also make a difference in your potential health outcomes. LDL particles can range in size, some are large and buoyant while the smaller ones are more likely to oxidize. Oxidized LDL can produce inflammation in arteries that supply blood to your organs and other tissues, which promotes atherosclerosis and increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Over time oxidized LDL can accumulate and can slow, or completely restrict, the blood flow travelling throughout your body. This can result in a variety of health conditions, including coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease or dementia. Some of the lifestyle issues that appear to increase levels of oxidized LDL include:

  • Consuming a diet that is high in trans fats
  • Smoking
  • Having poorly controlled diabetes
  • Being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome

Even accounting for the various forms that LDL can take within a body, and the fact that it is oxidized LDL that poses the greatest heart risk, apples are still the diet addition of choice. Here’s why:

Spotlight: Polyphenols  

The apple study mentioned earlier was led by Robert DiSilvestro, PhD, a professor of human nutrition at the university. It divided participants into three groups: one that ate a large Red or Golden Delicious apple daily for four weeks; a second that took daily capsules containing polyphenols for four weeks; and a final group that took a placebo containing no polyphenols. The authors found that the difference between the apple-a-day group and the placebo group was comparable to the difference between people with normal coronary arteries versus those with coronary artery disease, respectively. The placebo had no effect on the blood levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol. The polyphenol capsules were good, but, according to Dr. DiSilvestro, nothing compares to eating a daily apple. Apples were even found to be significantly more effective at lowering oxidized LDL than other antioxidants that DiSilvestro had studied in the past, including curcumin, green tea, and tomato extract.

How to prepare an apple?

Just eat it. DiSilvestro suggests that eating an apple in its whole food form offers the maximum health benefit. In addition to polyphenols, apples are rich in pectin, a kind of soluble fiber which is also effective in lowering cholesterol levels, and which can only be found in the whole, fresh apple. The phytonutrients in apples have also been shown to ward off strokes, cardiopulmonary issues, and certain types of cancer.

So, if there is any one small step towards healthy living and avoiding a visit to the cardiologist, it’s to eat an apple a day. Small lifestyle changes like adding an apple to your daily diet are just some of the ways to kickstart a heart healthy lifestyle.

Check out our blog post on beets and learn about another powerful heart healthy food!

Read Dr. DiSilvestro’s study here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464612001363