ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
CANCER
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
FITNESS
Seniors Who Exercise Help Their Health
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Can You Talk Your Way to Happy?
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
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.