An Apple A Day?

By Dr. John W. Phelts

We have all heard the saying from the time when we were kids, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and as a result we ate apples happily knowing they would keep us healthy.  Some nutrition experts started classifying apples as a junk food, saying that they have little nutritional value, referencing their low vitamin and mineral content.  Now, recent research reveals that apples do have health benefits and that an apple a day may in fact keep the doctor away.  

Apples have been shown to reduce the type of cholesterol that many researchers propose is the cause of atherosclerosis- oxidized low-density lipoproteins (OxLDL).  The Journal Of Functional Foods published a study performed at The Ohio State University in which test subjects 40-60 years old consumed one apple a day for four weeks.  The subjects alternated between Red Delicious  and Golden Delicious Apples each day.  At the end of the four weeks the researchers found that OxLDL was lowered by 40%.  The researchers attribute this  effect to the apple’s polyphenol content.  Polyphenols act as antioxidants in our bodies and are capable of neutralizing OxLDLs so that they do not damage our arteries.  

Apples have also been shown to improve artery function and blood pressure.  A study was performed at TheSchool of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia, in which blood pressure and endothelial cell (cells of the inner lining of arteries)  function of 30 men and women were measured after they were administered apples.  The results of the study found that apples can independently enhance endothelial cell function and lower blood pressure.  Apples are rich Flavanoids.  Flavanoids are plant based compounds that acts as antioxidants and protect our arteries.  Flavanoids improve endothelial cell function and lower blood pressure, by augmenting nitric oxide levels in the blood.  Nitric oxide is known to increase artery dilation, thereby lowering blood pressure.

It is better to consume organically grown apples than those grown conventionally, because they have a higher concentration of polyphenols.  Plants produce polyphenols to protect themselves against pests and foreign invaders.  Organically grown apples must produce more of them to survive, since they do not have the assistance of pesticides.  

So the next time you eat an apple, remember that you are helping your cardiovascular system to stay healthy, and that you are indeed keeping the doctor away.


Intakes of apples or apple polyphenols decease plasma values for oxidized low-density lipoprotein/beta2-glycoprotein I complex

Flavonoid-rich apples and nitrate-rich spinach augment nitric oxide status and improve endothelial function in healthy men and women: a randomized controlled trial.

Three-year comparison of the polyphenol contents and antioxidant capacities in organically and conventionally produced apples ( Malus domestica Bork. Cultivar ‘Golden Delicious’).