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An Apple a Day May Lower Levels of Oxidized LDL Cholesterol

When LDL (bad) cholesterol becomes oxidized, it can produce inflammation in the arteries that supply blood to your organs and other tissues. This can lead to atherosclerosis and also increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

The oxidation of LDL cholesterol occurs when the LDL cholesterol particles in your body react with free radicals. A new study suggests that eating an apple a day may lower oxidized LDL cholesterol levels by 40%.

The study included 51 healthy adults. Over the course of four weeks, 16 of them ate a Red or Golden Delicious apple, 17 consumed a supplement containing 194 milligrams of apple polyphenols, and 18 consumed a placebo.

At the conclusion of the study, both the apple and the apple polyphenol supplement groups showed significantly lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, but the effects were more pronounced in the apple group.

The researchers are unsure of why eating apples had a greater effect than the supplement, but they hypothesize that it could be one of three reasons:

1. Apples may contain something else with LDL fighting properties besides polyphenols

2. Whole apples allow for greater absorption of polyphenols than extracts

3. The polyphenols in the capsule came from several apple varieties and so were slightly different from those in the apples

The researchers for this study were based at Ohio State University. It was published online ahead of print on September 29, 2012, in the Journal of Functional Foods.

Apples are also high in a soluble fiber called pectin, which has been shown in other studies to block cholesterol absorption in the gut. Apple skins are also high in powerful plant antioxidants called polyphenols that prevent cellular damage by free radicals.

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