One study has shown us that it’s not one apple a day that keeps the doctor away but two. It turns out that two apples a day cuts cholesterol and therefore cuts down on heart disease. The study was done on post menopausal women who ate two dried apples and or prunes every day for a year. The cholesterol levels were measured before and at intervals during the study.
At six months, cholesterol levels were measured as significantly lower than baseline levels in women who ate prunes or dried apples. The cholesterol levels, unfortunately, were only noted as being significantly lower at six months and not at any other time. There were high dropout rates in the study, perhaps because of the distaste of eating dried fruit every day.
Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that high levels of fruits and vegetables are healthy for you and lead to reductions in the risk for heart disease, whether the fruit is dried or not. Activity level is also a factor in who gets heart disease and who doesn’t.
The research study was conducted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as well as other institutions throughout the United States and was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a peer-reviewed journal. About 75 grams of apples where consumed each day, which is the equivalent of 2 apples.
This was called a randomized controlled trial. It attempted to see if dried plums (prunes) or dried apples helped to reduce cholesterol in healthy post menopausal women. Other research has shown that fiber and polyphenolic agents are part of what reduces cholesterol and inflammatory molecules that lead to heart disease. Apples have a high content of polyphenolic compounds and are also high in fiber. The study randomly assigned a woman to plums or apples and provided them with the food to eat.
Women were assigned to their respective food over a two year period of time. They couldn’t be on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) during the study and none could be on cholesterol lowering drugs like statins. Heavy smokers were excluded as were women with diabetes and heart disease or other chronic diseases. There were a total of 160 women in the trial. They were asked to eat 75 g dried apple or 100 g prunes each day for 12 months. They were asked to mark on a calendar any days they missed. Cholesterol levels were measured at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months.
After three months, only 82 percent of the apple women and 73 percent of the prune women had continued the study. By 12 months, only 63 percent of both groups had finished the study. The rest of the women dropped out due to noncompliance.
Cholesterol reduced by 9 percent after three months and it was down 13 percent after 6 and 12 months. These were found to be statistically significant. The prune group was less significant, lowering cholesterol by just 8 percent after 12 months.