Wholesome, tasty apples are truly one of fall’s most amazing gifts. We all know that they pack a powerful lot of nutrients in that tidy little round package – and now there’s even more good news: In a study of healthy, middle-aged adults, consumption of one apple a day for four weeks lowered by 40 percent blood levels of a substance linked to hardening of the arteries.
The study, funded by an apple industry group, found that the apples lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL -- low-density lipoprotein, the "bad" cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals to become oxidized, the cholesterol is more likely to promote inflammation and can cause tissue damage.
The study is published online in the Journal of Functional Foods and will appear in a future print edition.
Aside from the cardiovascular health benefits, there are numerous reasons to enjoy an apple a day:
- Apples are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients essential to normal cellular growth and development. Some of the important flavonoids in apples are quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2. These compounds help the body protect from deleterious effects of free radicals.
- Apples are the ideal diet and convenience food; they travel well in a purse or lunchbox and a 100 gram serving contains only 50 calories. They’re high in dietary fiber, too, making them an excellent aid to digestion.
- Apples are high in beta carotene and Vitamin C, and a good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6).
- Apples also contain essential minerals including potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids and helps control heart rate and blood pressure; thus, it counters the bad influences of sodium.
What is your favorite way to enjoy the health benefits of apples?