It’s true: An apple a day really can keep the doctor away. A just-released study by researchers at the University of Florida has concluded that eating an apple every day significantly reduces “bad” cholesterol and slightly increases “good” cholesterol. Subjects in the study also lost weight.
The study group-160 women ages 45 to 65-was divided into two subgroups. The women who ate dried apples every day experienced an average reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) of 23 percent and an average increase of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, or “good” cholesterol) of 4 percent. And even though the apples added about 240 calories to each subject’s diet, the women lost an average of more than three pounds by the end of the one-year study.
There were additional benefits for the study participants who ate the apples every day. These women also experienced a drop in their levels of C-reactive protein-a measure of potentially dangerous inflammation-and saw a reduction in their lipid hydroperoxide-which is the product of toxic free radicals and can cause cell damage and signal a heightened risk for cardiovascular problems. The researchers chose apples because the fruit contains pectin, which improves the body’s ability to metabolize fat, and polyphenols, which slow the production of inflammatory molecules.
A spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA) who is not connected with the study said that apples’ cholesterol-lowering benefits could also be the result of the fruit being high in fiber, which has been shown to lower bad cholesterol in past studies. She also said that the results would be the same if fresh apples were used. In the past, the ADA-the nation’s largest group of nutrition professionals-found that vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer than do meat-eaters.
Vegans and vegetarians are, on average, fitter, trimmer, and healthier than nonvegetarians, and evidence of the many benefits of a meatless diet continues to mount. So it makes more sense than ever to eat your veggies-and don’t forget the apple!