An Apple (or 2) a Day Keeps…Cholesterol Down

Two apples a day will keep the doctor away? It seems there’s a new reason to think the old “apple a day” phrase just might need an update. A recent study at Florida State University found that women who ate 75 grams of dried apple (approximately two regular apples) every day for one year saw a decrease in total cholesterol despite no significant change in weight.

The study researchers recruited 160 postmenopausal women to take part in the yearlong study. The women were split into two groups: one group ate 75 grams of dried apple each day and the other group ate 100 grams of dried plums each day. Researchers requested that all participants maintain the same level of physical activity and dietary patterns over the course of the study. Over the course of the year, the researchers gathered fasting blood samples four times – at baseline, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months.

The results showed a greater reduction in cholesterol levels at the six month mark in the women eating the dried apples than those eating the dried plums. There was no significant change in cholesterol levels in the dried plum group, but the numbers remained steady over the course of the year. Additionally, both groups saw a decrease in oxidative stress markers related to heart disease risk.

While further studies are needed to determine if eating dried apples would have the same effect on premenopausal women and/or on men, it does give us more reason to eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Many studies have shown that fiber-rich diets from fruits and vegetables can improve lipid levels. And the reduction of inflammatory markers in the women participating in this study only strengthens our knowledge of the many benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Try these ideas to make eating your fruits and veggies a cinch:

  • Take dried fruit as an on-the-go snack or one to eat at your desk. Dried fruit also makes an excellent addition to a DIY trail mix.
  • Add fruits and vegetables to sauces, casseroles, and soups. Try a gazpacho as refreshing warm weather meal.
  • Pile veggies on a pizza or sandwich.
  • Prepare fruits in nontraditional ways such as baked, broiled, or grilled.
  • Enjoy the upcoming harvest of apples in the fall season! Slice for salad, chop to add to oatmeal or cereal, or simply wash and enjoy on the run.

by Allison Knott, MS, RD

Resource:
Chai SC, Hooshmand S, Saadat RL, Payton ME, Brummel-Smith K. Daily Apple versus Dried Plum: Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Postmenopausal Women. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012; 112:1158-1168.

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