Heart Benefits From Apples and Apple Juice

Researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine have determined that drinking apple juice and eating apples has a beneficial effect on risk factors for heart disease. Results of the pioneering clinical study appear in the winter edition of Journal of Medicinal Food. The study shows that compounds in apples and apple juice act in much the same way that red wine and tea do to slow one of the processes that lead to heart disease. These compounds act as anti-oxidants to delay the breakdown of LDL or "bad" cholesterol. When LDL oxidizes, or deteriorates in the blood, plaque accumulates along the walls of the coronary artery and causes atherosclerosis. "Previous studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease," says Dianne Hyson, a registered dietician and lead researcher of the study. "But this is the first clinical study to show the potential benefits of active compounds in apple juice and apples." Study results were more dramatic in subjects drinking apple juice, showing a 20-percent increase in lag time after six weeks, but eating apples also showed potential health benefits, including reduced oxidation markers and a 22-percent increase in dietary fiber. "A very moderate intake of apple juice or apples has the potential to reduce risk factors for heart disease in a fairly short period of time," she says. "These small diet changes might play an important role in a heart-healthy diet."

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Susanne Rockwell, Web and new media editor, (530) 752-2542, sgrockwell@ucdavis.edu