The disease-busting credentials of apples and berries just received a nice boost thanks to some nifty new science. In the apple study – investigators found that healthy adults who consumed a single large apple a day for four weeks lowered their levels of “oxidized LDL” (the toxic form of bad cholesterol that initiates artery-clogging) by 40 percent, relative to a control group who did not consume an apple each day. Apples are uniquely high in a class of powerful antioxidants called flavanoids thought to be the “active ingredient” behind the study findings. (1)
In another study, investigators measured the level of intake of anthocyanins in over 1,800 women and compared their anthocyanin consumption to their blood pressure and the stiffness of their arteries. Anthocyanins are special plant compounds known for their robust antioxidant and anti-inflammatory prowess, and berries provide more than any other food. Women consuming the most anthocyanins, equivalent to 1-2 portions of berries daily, had significantly lower systolic blood pressure and less stiff arteries. The magnitude of the beneficial effect in the women consuming the most anthocyanins vs. those consuming the least was on par with countering 10 years of artery aging! (2)
Although I strive to include a broad variety of brightly colored fruits in my diet regularly – the two I include most frequently are berries and apples.
1: Journal of Functional Foods, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2012.08.010
2: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012; 96:781-8