(NaturalNews) Heart disease recently surpassed cancer as the leading cause of death in the U.S. and many western societies. The sad part of the story is that heart disease is largely preventable by adopting healthy lifestyle changes including a natural diet filled with vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits, regular physical activity and avoidance of commercial and household pollutants. A number of foods have been identified that provide our body with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phenols that directly lower our risk for developing cardiovascular and other health disorders.
Researchers from Ohio State University publishing in the Journal of Functional Foods report that eating an apple a day might in fact help keep the cardiologist away. In a study of healthy, middle-aged adults, consumption of one apple a day for four weeks lowered levels of a substance linked to hardening of the arteries by nearly 40 percent. Additionally, the researchers found that taking supplemental capsules containing antioxidant polyphenols had a similar effect, though it did not last quite as long.
Nutrition scientists have known that a variety of naturally occurring compounds act to lower levels of the potentially deadly form of oxidized LDL cholesterol, the sticky substance that is rapidly attracted to micro cracks in the endothelial lining of arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the heart. When LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals to become oxidized, the cholesterol is more likely to promote inflammation and can cause tissue damage.
Apple polyphenols target oxidized LDL cholesterol to slash heart attack risk
Lead study author, Dr. Robert DiSilvestro noted "When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries... we got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks." The team determined that endothelial function in apple consumers with established coronary artery disease (CAD) was similar to those with normal coronary arteries. Effectively, an apple a day reverses the detrimental health effects of CAD.
To conduct their study, researchers recruited nonsmoking, healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60 who consumed apples fewer than twice per month and took no polyphenol fortified supplements. 16 participants ate one large red or golden delicious apple each day for four weeks. 17 took capsules containing 194 milligrams of polyphenols a day for four weeks, and 18 took a placebo containing no polyphenols.
The researchers found no effect on oxidized LDL's in those taking the placebo, but recorded a 40 percent reduction in oxidized LDL cholesterol in the other two groups. The team found that apple polyphenols are significantly more effective at lowering oxidized LDL than other antioxidants studied, including the spice-based compound curcumin, green tea and tomato extract. Clearly, different polyphenols from a variety of natural foods help to prevent disease in different areas of the body, an important reason to consume a full spectrum of different colored fruits and vegetables for optimal antioxidant support.
About the author: John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Health Researcher and Author who writes regularly on the cutting edge use of diet, lifestyle modifications and targeted supplementation to enhance and improve the quality and length of life. John is the author of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan', a comprehensive EBook explaining how to use Diet, Exercise, Mind and Targeted Supplementation to achieve your weight loss goal. Visit My Optimal Health Resource to continue reading the latest health news updates, and to download your copy of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan'.