Women could guard themselves against heart disease by eating just two apples a day, according to a recent research.
Previous studies have established that apples can lower insulin requirements, reduce inflammation and modulate the metabolism of fats.
But researchers from the Florida State University in the US wanted to further examine the benefits of eating apples, particularly in post-menopausal women and determine whether consuming the equivalent of two apples every day could have a significant effect on heart disease risk.
Up to menopause, women appear to have a natural immunity to heart disease and the rate of illness is only a third of that seen in men.
But from the age of around 50 onwards, the incidence increases sharply.
The multidisciplinary research group, which included doctors, dieticians and scientists, studied 160 post-menopausal women for a year, giving half of them 75 grams of dried apple each day, an amount equivalent to two whole apples. As a comparison, the other half were told to eat the same quantity of prunes to see if they had a similar effect. Each volunteer underwent blood tests every three months for one year.
The results, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, showed that after three months total cholesterol levels in the apple-eating group had dropped by nine per cent and low-density lipoprotein (the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol that furs up arteries and raises the risk of a life-threatening clot forming near the heart or brain) by 16 per cent.
After six months, levels were even lower: total cholesterol down 13 per cent and LDL levels dropping by 24 per cent. There was no further decline in the remaining six months of the experiment.
Prunes lowered cholesterol levels slightly but not to the same extent as the dried apple.
In the report on their findings the researchers stated: “Consumption of about two medium-sized apples can significantly lower cholesterol levels as early as three months.”