It’s no secret that eating fruits and vegetables is vital to a healthy diet. After all, everyone knows an apple a day keeps the doctor away. A new study on apples from Ohio State University takes that paradigm even father. Besides serving as a delicious snack, juice, and pie ingredient, apples appear to have cholesterol-reducing effects as well.
Professor Robert DiSilvestro,
courtesy of Ohio State University
Ohio State University professor Robert DiSilvestro, left, recently isolated the compounds responsible for the cholesterol reduction, antioxidants called polyphenols. Polyphenols work to stop the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol, otherwise known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL for short). When LDL is oxidized, it inflames the arteries and thus constricts blood flow, according to an article by the American Heart Association. This promotes atherosclerosis, more commonly known as hardening of the arteries. In this way, LDL increases the likelihood of heart attack or stroke.
So the fact that this antioxidant keeps LDL from oxidizing is certainly good news. What’s interesting about DiSilvestro’s study, however, is that apples themselves are more effective at this task than the polyphenols alone. The four-week study had patients either eating one apple, taking 194 milligrams of polyphenols, or taking a placebo for every day of the study. Those taking the placebo had unchanged oxidized LDL levels. The polyphenols did reduce the level of oxidized LDL, but not to the same level as the apple. In an OSU article about the study, Disilvestro attempts to explain this oddity:
“We found the polyphenol extract did register a measurable effect, but not as strong as the straight apple. That could either be because there are other things in the apple that could contribute to the effect, or, in some cases, these bioactive compounds seem to get absorbed better when they're consumed in foods.”
Whatever the cause, the consumption of one apple a day for four weeks lowered the amount of oxidized LDL in the bloodstream by 40%. Granted, the people in the study ate apples less than twice a month to begin with, but the drop is still significant enough to encourage the public to consume more apples.
Professor DiSilvestro is a professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University and a researcher at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. He has previously performed studies into the beneficial effects of other antioxidants, such as curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric. For further reading on his research at Ohio State University, click here. To learn more about funding at Ohio State University, please click the following button:
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