The classic idiom “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” may be more correct than previously thought. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that eating two apples a day may help lower high cholesterol, helping reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Researchers believe the high fiber and micronutrient content of apples are behind the benefits.
For the study, researchers from the Edmund Mach Foundation in Italy recruited 40 healthy adults with slightly high cholesterol levels for an eight-week test. At the beginning of the test, half the group was assigned to eat two apples a day, while the other half was given an apple-juice beverage containing the amount of sugar in two apples. After a several-week break, the groups switched so the researchers could compare results of different methods for the same person, instead of comparing two different people.
The study found participants who ate two fresh apples a day had lower blood cholesterol than when they drank apple juice. Their levels of “bad” cholesterol decreased by almost four percent. The researchers also found people had more relaxed blood vessels after eating apples daily. The study found that women may benefit more than men, but the study wasn’t designed to compare results based on gender so it’s too soon to draw gender-related conclusions.
Heart attacks happen when a blockage in the coronary artery causes part of the heart muscle to be starved of blood and oxygen. These blockages can be caused by high cholesterol, a waxy substance found in blood. Symptoms of a heart attack can include pain in the chest or other parts of the body, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and heightened anxiety.