ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Living Near Major Road May Boost Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
CANCER
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
CAREGIVING
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Eating Free Range
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Most Mt. Everest Deaths Occur Near Summit During Descent
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
Air Pollution May Cause Appendicitis: Study Reveals
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Parents Influence Sex Decisions, Hispanic Teens Say
Sleep and Do Better
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
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.