Apples for Your Heart?

Can eating an apple help protect you from metabolic syndrome–a cluster of symptoms related to an increased risk of heart disease? It’s possible, say researchers who analyzed data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In the survey, people who reported consuming any form of apples within the past day were 27 percent less likely to have symptoms of metabolic syndrome–like high blood pressure or a waist measurement of over 40 inches (for men) or 35 inches (for women)–compared to those who didn’t. The apple eaters also had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation whose presence in the blood suggests an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.

While a one-day snapshot doesn’t represent a long-term dietary pattern, the study shows that eating apples “is associated with broad metabolic advantages,” notes lead investigator Victor Fulgoni, Ph.D. This study adds to a growing body of evidence indicating apples benefit the heart. Last year, the Iowa Women’s Health Study reported that, among the 34,000-plus women it’s been tracking for nearly 20 years, apples were associated with a lower risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Some years earlier, Finnish researchers studying dietary data collected over 28 years from 9,208 men and women found that frequent apple eaters had the lowest risk of suffering strokes compared with non-apple eaters.

What explains the hearty benefits? Researchers suggest that the strong antioxidant flavonoid compounds found in apples–quercetin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, kaempferol and other polysyllabic wonders–play a key role by preventing LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and triggering a series of events that result in the buildup of plaque in arteries, as well as inhibiting inflammation. “But antioxidants are just one piece of the whole puzzle,” notes Cornell University food scientist and apple expert Rui Hai Liu, Ph.D. Apples are also rich in pectin, a form of soluble fiber known to help lower cholesterol, and they provide a decent amount of vitamin C, another antioxidant.

Liu, whose own pioneering work has identified cancer-fighting elements in extracts of whole apples, believes that we’re only beginning to understand how the various components of apples “work together additively and synergistically to provide health benefits.” David Jacobs, Ph.D., a University of Minnesota researcher involved in the Iowa Women’s Health Study, concurs. “There are probably thousands of compounds in apples that we haven’t yet identified and maybe won’t identify for a long time,” he muses, “but we really don’t need to know all that, because we can eat whole apples.”

Bottom line: Enjoy apples in all their forms, including applesauce and juice (look for brands labeled “made with whole apples,” recommends Liu) and especially apples in their simplest, whole form. Be sure to leave the peel on–and not just because that’s where much of the healthy phytochemicals are concentrated, but for apples’ full flavor complexity.

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By Joyce Hendley, Eating Well magazine


Rupesh Pawani
Rupesh Pawani7 years ago

The researchers suggest that the strong antioxidant flavonoid compounds quercetin found in apples, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, kaempferol, and other polysyllabic wonders, a key role in preventing the oxidation of LDL and launch a series of events leading to the accumulation of plaque in arteries and help prevent infection. "But antioxidants are only part of the complex puzzle," says Cornell University food scientist and an apple expert Rui Hai Liu, Ph.D. Apples are rich in pectin, in the form of soluble fiber known to reduce cholesterol levels, and offer a reasonable amount of vitamin C, another antioxidant.
Womens Heart Disease

Michael Campbell
Michael Campbell7 years ago

As always, fruits are very nutritious, thanks for sharing.

Aeri K.
Aeri Kim8 years ago

my friend, Rajiv Doshi.
just died of Heart Failure, i told him to eat tons of apples;
apparently, it wasn't enough.

Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago



Rach L.
Rach L8 years ago

it's always best to be back to healthy eat wisely

Linda B.
Linda B8 years ago

I prefer organic. Regular apples are loaded with pesticides.

Danuta Glendenning

I agree with Kristen. In the early last century my grandmother always said: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Now how did she know that, when there was no scientific study ever being done on apple eating? I've noticed more and more that the simplest wisdoms (already known) are being scientifically studied, whereas cancer is riddling the world and no-one seems to see the obvious signs where it stems from, or wants to do much about it, although it is really obvious what it causing it also. Funny that!

Kristen M.
Kristen M.8 years ago

Here's the secret to avoiding heart disease: eat Real Food instead of the edible food-like substances manufactured by our food industry.

It so happens that apples *are* Real Food, so they obviously help fight heart disease. Did we really need a medical study to tell us what common sense and centuries old tradition would say?

Keepin' it real,
Kristen M
The Food Renegade