It looks as though the cliche of an apple a day keeping the doctor away might have some truth to it–a study at Florida State University in Tallahassee proved that eating at least one apple daily can lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in cardiac arteries. This is in addition to the other health benefits it offers, including regulating blood sugar and and controlling appetite.
In the study, 160 women were randomly assigned to eat a serving of either apples or prunes every day for one year. By the end of the year, the women who were assigned apples exhibited a 14% drop in their overall cholesterol, as well as a reduction in the biochemicals and proteins that can cause arterial inflammation. They even lost weight, an average of around three pounds over a year. The women assigned to eat prunes also saw a reduction in cholesterol, but not at the same level as those who ate apples.
There are several theories as to why apples offer such benefits. One is that apples contain pectin, fiber that blocks cholesterol absorption and allows the body to burn it instead of storing it. Another is that apple peels contain antioxidants that prevent cellular damage. Dried apples were used for the study, but it’s likely that fresh apples may be even more effective, and all varieties of apples are beneficial. Apples are also believed to reduce the risk of some cancers, including prostate and lung, boost the immune system, protect the brain from the kind of damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s Disease and even whiten the teeth.
How many apples a day should you eat to keep high cholesterol away? Just one is sufficient, though two is probably even better. An apple makes a fine addition to breakfast, or as a substitute for what would normally be a snack high in salt or fat during the day, and is often less expensive than other fruits. If you don’t enjoy apples by themselves, try them chopped up and mixed into yogurt, sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon or dipped in natural peanut butter. Unsweetened apple juice with no additives also has some of the same benefits, but not as much as just grabbing a whole apple from the fruit bowl and taking a bite right out of it.
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