apples and cholesterol

  1. Apples can slash LDL cholesterol

    Thirty days to better cholesterol

    You don't need to swallow a single pill to lower your cholesterol levels -- but you might have to watch for seeds.

    Apples are nature's own cure for high cholesterol, with new research showing that eating one every day can cut LDL levels by up to 40 percent in a single month.

    In other words... an apple a day really might keep the doctor away, not to mention the cardiologist and even the pharmacist.

    But wait, because this gets sweeter. Ever hear of someone suffering from serious muscle pain after biting into an apple? Know anyone who suffers from apple-induced kidney or liver damage?

    Me neither -- but those are some of the real risks of cholesterol drugs. Apples, on the other hand, come with virtually no risks at all. And while statins can cause diabetes, people who eat apples actually have a lower risk of the disease.

    Just make sure you don't take any shortcuts here and stick to real, fresh apples. In the new study, one set of patients was given the polyphenols found in apples, but in supplement form -- and while they also saw a dip in LDL levels, it was nothing like the 40 percent plunge enjoyed by the apple-eaters.

    It's not the first time apples have been shown to lower cholesterol levels -- there's a whole orchard of research on this, including a recent study that found that a daily serving of dried apples cut LDL levels by 24 percent over six months.

    The only caution here is that conventional apples contain more pesticides than just about anything else in the produce aisle, even after they've been washed and peeled. As a result, they've topped the Environmental Working Group's list of "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables for two years running now.

    I know organics cost more... but here's a case where you can see what that extra money buys you, and I say it's worth every penny.

  2. Apples can cut cholesterol levels

    An apple a day might not always keep the doctor away. But two apples might do the trick -- especially for older women.

    In a new study, postmenopausal women who ate 2.6 ounces of dried apples a day -- the equivalent of two medium fresh apples -- saw dramatic improvements in cholesterol levels.

    At three months, their levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol fell by 16 percent and their total cholesterol dropped by 9 percent. At six months, those LDL levels fell by 24 percent, and total cholesterol by 13 percent.

    They also saw a 4 percent boost in HDL ("good") cholesterol. That may not sound very big, but raising HDL levels even a little bit is often a big challenge for many people.

    Those cholesterol changes alone are impressive enough for something as simple as apples, but those weren't the only benefits. The women who ate the dried apples also lost an average of 3.3 pounds, possibly a "side effect" of the pectin in the fruit, which is known to help make people feel full.

    A control group of women given a daily helping of prunes saw slight dips in cholesterol, but nothing like what was seen among those who ate the apples. They also dropped a couple of pounds.

    And while women in both groups saw drops in their levels of C-reactive protein -- an inflammation marker linked to everything from heart disease to brain disorders -- the women who got the prunes had bigger drops in this department.

    Looks like prunes are good for more than just regularity, and I see no reason not to enjoy both prunes and apples if you like them. Just keep it moderate, since the sugar and calories can add up fast if you eat too much fruit -- especially dried fruit.

    And when it comes to apples, don't just pick up anything on sale at the supermarket. Go organic, because conventional apples have some of the highest levels of pesticides of anything in the produce aisle.

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