TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 13 (UPI) -- An apple a day may keep the cardiologist away by lowering cholesterol, U.S. researchers say.
Dr. Bahram H. Arjmandi of The Florida State University says apples are truly a "miracle fruit" that convey benefits beyond fiber content.
The study involved 160 women ages 45-65 who were randomly assigned to eat 75 grams a day of dried apple slices for a year or to eat dried prunes every day for a year. Blood samples were taken at three, six and 12-months, Arjmandi says.
Arjmandi described the findings as "surprising" and said "incredible changes in the apple-eating women happened by six months -- they experienced a 23 percent decrease in low-density lipoprotein, the 'bad' cholesterol; lowered lipid hydroperoxide levels and C-reactive protein -- a protein, which levels rise in response to inflammation.
"I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing high-density lipoprotein, the 'good,' cholesterol by about 4 percent," Arjmandi says in a statement.
"Yet another advantage is that the extra 240 calories per day consumed from the dried apple did not lead to weight gain in the women; in fact, they lost on average 3.3 pounds. Reducing body weight is an added benefit to daily apple intake."
Part of the reason for the weight loss could be the fruit's pectin, which helps a person feel full, Arjmandi says.
The findings were presented at Experimental Biology in Washington.