Tallahassee, FL—Tart or sweet, green or red, apples are enjoyed by millions across the globe. Now, a USDA-funded study has highlighted the heart health benefits of consuming apples. The findings were presented at Experimental Biology 2011.

Bahram H. Arjmandi, Ph.D., R.D., at The Florida State University says apples offer key benefits beyond that of fiber content. And, Arjmandi and his team were the first to investigate the cardioprotective effects that everyday consumption of apples may offer postmenopausal women.

During the assessment, 160 women ages 45–65 were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received dried prunes daily for a year, while the other group ate dried apples for the same amount of time. Blood samples were taken at three, six and 12 months. Arjmandi says that there were noticeable changes in those who ate apples after just six months in that participants experienced a 23% reduction in LDL cholesterol. Consuming apples also promoted lower lipid hydroperoxide and C-reactive protein levels in partakers.

Says Arjmandi, “I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol by about 4%.”

Interestingly, the extra 240 calories consumed from the dried apples did not cause a spike in weight; in fact, participants lost weight (3.3 lbs on average). One plausible explanation for apple-consumption related weight loss may be due to the pectin in apples. Previous animal studies have suggested that polyphenols along with apple pectin can improve lipid metabolism and decrease the amounts of pro-inflammatory molecules.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2011