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An Apple (or Two) a Day Boosts Heart Health

Eating 1 or 2 apples a day may significantly reduce heart disease risk according to a new study presented at Experimental Biology 2011, in Washington, D.C the week of April 9, 2011.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Florida State University, included 160 women. At the start of the study the participants were randomly assigned to receive daily servings of dried apples or prunes for 1 year.

The participants were given blood tests to measure various markers of heart health after 3, 6, and 12 months.

The women in the apple group saw a 14% drop in total cholesterol levels and a 23% drop in LDL cholesterol levels. Levels of lipid hydroperoxide, a biochemical involved in the formation of heart-clogging plaques, and C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation, were both reduced by approximately one-third.

The women in the apple group also lost an average of 3 pounds over the course of the year.

The women in the prune group saw some slight reductions in the above-mentioned markers, but nowhere close to the levels seen by the women in the apple group.

Although the study did not look into the mechanisms behind their results, the researchers noted that several factors likely played into the observed benefits. Apples are high in a soluble fiber called pectin which has been shown 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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