More evidence continues to surface supporting the superior effectiveness of nature's foods over medication in preventing disease. New research shows that just two apples a day could help protect women against heart disease lowering blood fat levels by almost 25 percent, a claim unattainable by cardiovascular prescription medications.
Scientists found apples significantly lowered blood fat levels in postmenopausal women, the group most at risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Studies in the past have found that flavonoids act as antioxidants -- enzymes that target free radicals that can damage DNA. Flavonoids are commonly found in chocolate, green tea and other fruits and vegetables.
Snacking on the fruit every day for six months slashed levels of so-called "bad cholesterol" by almost a quarter, a figure that all statin drugs combined cannot attain.
Why Cholesterol Drugs Are Ineffective
Two-thirds of people taking widely prescribed cholesterol-lowering medicines do not get as much benefit as drug company statements suggest they should, primarily due to cholesterol drugs working better in labs than they do in people.
Moreover, study after study has shown that cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins (Lipitor, Mevecor, Crestor, etc.) do not reduce the risk of death and heart disease in people with moderately high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Despite their ineffectiveness, a recent report from the American Heart Association predicted a tripling of direct medical costs of cardiovascular disease from $272.5 billion to $818.1 billion between 2010 and 2030 (Circulation, March 2011, Vol. 123, pp. 933-944).
Statin medications are the number-one-selling drugs in the world. They work by interfering with the liver function and reducing the production of LDL. But statins are a questionable innovation on at least a couple of accounts. Firstly they are not without side-effects: they can, for example, lead to the breakdown of major muscular material, which can ultimately overwhelm the kidneys and even cause acute renal failure.
Statins also appear to reduce the body's natural levels of the vitamin-like, cellular protection agent known as Co-enzyme Q10. This benzoquinoneplays an important role in cellular energy release, particularly in hard worked areas like the lungs, liver and heart. CoQ10 (as it is sometimes called) has also been shown to protect the brain against neurological degeneration. But perhaps most interestingly, with respect to cholesterol, CoQ10 also acts as an antioxidant, particularly active in protecting the system against LDL oxidation and the potential problems associated with this as described above. So whilst Statins might provide a reduction in LDL per se, they might also be causing more problems in the long-term. Naturally, as with many modern drugs, they generally have to be taken for the long-term by anyone who has been prescribed them.
What is particularly disturbing about Statins is, perhaps, the fact that they may be seen as a 'quick fix' for unhealthily high LDL, and consequently cholesterol levels throughout the body. However, the average reduction for LDL cholesterol for all statin drugs combined is less than 18% making the plant extract blend a feasible, affordable and an superior option to Statins for patients with elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Considering the lack of side effects from red yeast rice and artichoke leaf extract blends, the option is gaining deserved attention in the natural health community.
Study Support Previous Evidence
The findings, by a team of researchers at Florida State University in the U.S, support previous evidence that apples could be good for the heart. But the latest study suggests they could benefit one of the highest-risk groups.
Almost 50 percent of women will suffer from heart disease or a stroke and it is the biggest single cause of death among post-menopausal women.
Up to the menopause, women appear to have a natural immunity to heart disease and the rate of illness is only a third of that seen in men. But from the age of around 50 onwards, the incidence increases sharply.
Researchers wanted to see if eating the equivalent of two apples every day could have a significant effect on heart disease risk.
They recruited 160 women who had been through the menopause and got half to eat 75 grammes a day of dried apple - the equivalent of two medium-sized fresh apples.
As a comparison, the other half were told to eat the same quantity of prunes to see if they had a similar effect.
Each volunteer underwent blood tests every three months for one year.
The results, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, showed that after three months total cholesterol levels in the apple-eating group had dropped by nine percent and LDL cholesterol by 16 percent.
After six months, levels were even lower, with total cholesterol down 13 percent and LDL levels dropping by 24 percent. There was no further decline in the remaining six months of the experiment.
Prunes lowered cholesterol levels slightly but not to the same extent as the dried apple.
In a report on their findings the researchers said: ‘Consumption of about two medium-sized apples can significantly lower cholesterol levels as early as three months.’
Previous researchers at UC Davis School of Medicine have determined that drinking apple juice and eating apples has a beneficial effect on risk factors for heart disease.
In 2009, a Polish study revealed two apples a day also halved the risk of bowel cancer in adults.
And research by scientists at St. George’s Hospital Medical School in London shows lung function is boosted in middle-aged men if they eat at least one apple every day.
Choose Your Apples Wisely
Many apples sold in supermarkets and greengrocers contain pesticide residues that are above the maximum legal level.
Organically produced apples have a 15 percent higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.
A report published in March 2008 by the Organic Center at America’s Organic Trade Association argued that organic produce is 25 per cent more nutritious than conventional foodstuffs.
Bernhard Watzl from the Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food in Karlsruhe stated “...organically produced apples displayed a higher phytochemical concentration and a higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.”