A new study seems to prove that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” may actually be true. It turns out that apples are a miracle food that helped a group of post-menopausal women balance cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and lose weight. Best of all, apples are abundant, affordable and contain numerous compounds that deliver health benefits beyond fiber content.
The results of an apple a day
Researchers from the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at Florida State University targeted apples because they’re full of pectin, which has been proven to help the body metabolize fat, as well as polyphenols, which reduce inflammation.
In their study, 160 women aged 45-65 ate either dried apples or prunes daily for one year. The researchers were surprised to discover that the women who ate apples experienced a drop in their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or “bad” LDL cholesterol, by 23 percent after six months. Plus, their “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, rose about 4 percent. The apple eaters consumed 2/3 cup of dried apples a day and lost up to 3.3 pounds on average despite the extra 240 calories a day. Their levels of C-reactive protein (a measure of potentially dangerous inflammation) and lipid hydroperoxide (a marker for higher risk of cardiovascular disease) also fell.
Keeping the doctor away
In addition to fiber and the pectin that piqued the interest of the scientists at Florida State, apples have an entire package of compounds that can affect your health in positive ways:
Boron – abundant in apples, boron supports strong bones and a healthy brain.
Quercetin — A flavonoid that has been linked to reduced risk of various cancers, including lung and breast cancer. Quercetin may also reduce damage from free radicals, which develop when atoms in the body’s cells have unpaired electrons, which damage to different parts of the cell, including DNA. Free radicals have been linked to a variety of age-related health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin C – to boost immunity and maintain overall health.
Phytonutrients — including vitamins A, E and beta carotene, compounds that fight free radicals and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
Put apples on your grocery list
Apples are also nature’s toothbrush, cleaning teeth, killing bacteria in the mouth, and reducing tooth decay. Apples are also low in calorie density, a trademark of a healthful food. Plus, they’re abundant, affordable and have an incredible shelf life. The old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away can be traced back to the February 1866 issue of a journal called “Notes and Queries,” where it appeared as: “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” Now we know its been around so long because it has a ring of truth to it.