(NaturalNews) In the fight against chronic illness, researchers have potentially discovered a new all-natural weapon that can help keep your blood pressure down: Apple peel extracts.
Writing in the journal Food Chemistry, researchers from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Canada said the outer layer of an apple contains as much as six times the amount of chemical ingredients that can help combat potentially life-threatening hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Natural medicine enthusiasts have long known that apples are a rich source of antioxidants and chemical compounds called flavanoids that are heart-healthy and good for the cardiovascular system in general.
But if you peel that Granny Smith or Golden apple first before you eat it, you're robbing yourself of most of the health benefits contained in the fruit, the researchers noted.
The proof is in the peel
In conducting their research, scientists tested the peel against the apple's fleshy portion for an enzyme called ACE, which is known to cause elevated blood pressure in humans (in traditional medical circles, doctors often prescribe so-called ACE-inhibitors to control hypertension). The research team found that the peel was significantly more effective in acting as a natural ACE inhibitor in living organisms.
Researchers found that apple peels have six times the flavanoids as the flesh, and produced higher levels of antioxidants when consumed.
The peels were also more effective at battling hypertension in texts than extracts of other so-called "superfoods" including blueberries, green tea and other plant extracts. The team found that while other fruits have some level of flavanoids, those levels could not compare with the effectiveness of an apple peel.
"Overall, the results suggest that flavanoid-rich apple peel extract has a potential to act as an effective ACE inhibitor in vivo; thus, animal and clinical studies are warranted to affirm the results," wrote researchers Nileeka Balasuriya and Visantha Rupasinghe
"Apples are one of the most popular and frequently consumed fruits in the world. Apple peel is a rich source of flavonoids which provide numerous health benefits - apple peel flavonoids inhibited ACE, an enzyme associated with hypertension," they team said.
Globally, about one in seven people suffer from hypertension, most commonly described as blood pressures of greater than 140 systolic (top number) and 90 diastolic (bottom number) mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).
All about the apples
A separate one-year clinical study, the results of which were published recently in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, also touted the potential cardiovascular benefits of apples.
Researchers from Florida State University, led by Prof. Bahram Arjmandi found that consumption of dried apples may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women by cutting levels of "bad" cholesterol by about 25 percent.
"Our findings show that daily incorporation of dried apple into diets favorably improves cardiovascular health" in those women, said Arjmandi and his team, noting that while prunes also lowered cholesterol, those levels were far surpassed by a diet richer in dried apples.
In following 160 women over the course a 12-month clinical study, researchers found that dried apple consumption reduced total cholesterol by nine percent, and the bad LDL cholesterol by 16 percent at the three-month mark. At the six and 12-month mark, overall cholesterol levels fell by 13 percent and LDL cholesterol by 24 percent - results that were large enough to be statistically significant, said Arjmandi.
High blood pressure is often called the "silent killer," because in most circumstances there are no overt symptoms. Doctors and healthcare professions recommend routine blood pressure checks, especially for men and women age 50 and older. Sources: