ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
CANCER
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
CAREGIVING
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
DIET, NUTRITION
Iced Teas Pose High Risk of Kidney Stones
Low Vitamin A, C Intake Tied to Asthma Risk
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FITNESS
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Add your Article

An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away

Women who ate dried apples every day for a year lowered their total cholesterol by 14 percent and their levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol by 23 percent.

"I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol by about 4 percent," Bahram Arjmandi, chair of the department of nutrition, food and exercise sciences at Florida State University in Tallahassee, said in a statement.

Arjmandi was to present the findings Tuesday at the Experimental Biology meeting in Washington D.C. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided partial funding for the study.

Many foods can have an effect on cholesterol levels, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foods containing saturated fats, trans fats and dietary cholesterol can raise your cholesterol levels, while foods with healthier fats such as olive oil can lower your cholesterol. Foods with fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can reduce cholesterol levels, while carbohydrates that are low in fiber tend to raise triglyceride levels and lower "good" HDL cholesterol levels.

In the current study, the researchers wanted to assess the long-term effect that apple consumption might have on cardiovascular health.

They recruited 160 women between the ages of 45 and 65. The women were randomly assigned to one of two dietary intervention groups. One group was given 75 grams of dried apples every day for a year, while the other group was given dried prunes daily for a year.

The daily serving of dried apples contained about 240 calories, according to the study. An apple contains about 5 grams of fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The researchers found that women eating dried apples lowered their total cholesterol by 14 percent. LDL cholesterol dropped by 23 percent. Daily apple consumption also significantly lowered levels of C-reactive protein and lipid hydroperoxide, two substances that may indicate an increased risk of heart disease. What effects, if any, the prunes had on cholesterol levels were not mentioned in the study abstract.

The researchers theorized that the nutrients in apples may reduce inflammation in the body.

Despite the addition of several hundred calories a day to their diet, the apple-eating women didn't gain weight over the course of the study. In fact, they lost an average of 3.3 pounds.

Registered dietician Jessica Shapiro said she wasn't surprised that the women didn't gain weight. The addition of apples to the diet probably kept the women feeling fuller because of the fiber content in the apples, she explained.

"Apples really are an amazing fruit for many reasons," said Shapiro, who is a clinical nutritionist who counsels cardiac patients at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "A large reason apples are so good is the fiber. Apples have both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble is found more in the skin, and the pulp is more soluble fiber."

"The pulp of an apple gets to be a very viscous gel-like substance that grabs cholesterol and pulls it out of the body. It's kind of like nature's toothbrush, and it's brushing the bad stuff out," she explained.

"Another good thing in apples is pectin. It's a substance that's used to make jellies or jams, and pectin contributes to the viscosity of what's going through the body, and bulks it up to help remove it. Apples also have tons of antioxidants and other natural components," she said.

Shapiro said she would recommend fresh apples over dried apples, because some nutrients are probably lost in the drying process.

But Shapiro stressed that making healthy changes to what you eat can only do so much.

"Changing your diet can make a big difference, but eating a healthy diet is only part of it. Once your cholesterol is high, diet may not be enough," she said. "Some people are predisposed because of their genes to having high cholesterol, and a healthy diet may not be enough."

Shapiro also advised against making any changes to your medications, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, without talking to your doctor first.

Also, she cautioned, when increasing the fiber in your diet, do it slowly. This will help prevent bloating and gas that may occur if you increase your fiber intake too quickly. She said that 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily is the recommended intake, and she suggested increasing your current intake by about 5 grams daily each week to give your body a chance to get used to the increased fiber.

More information

Learn more about the importance of fruits and vegetables from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Jessica Shapiro, M.S., R.D., clinical nutritionist, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; April 12, 2011, presentation, Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology meeting, Washington D.C.