Could one apple a day really amount to much clinically? Apparently, yes and for good reason. An apple is more than just one “signal” of health, it is a myriad of dozens of signals which, if given frequently enough, can trigger the healing capacity your body is waiting for (we discuss this in more detail in chapter 6 of The Original Prescription).
One recent study trying to ask this question studied how eating an apple a day might decrease the formation of highly atherogenic complexes which form between oxidized LDL particles (OxLDL) and beta2-glycoprotein I (many researchers believe it is oxidized LDL complexes that are the real culprit behind plaque formation). What they discovered was that when healthy subjects (40-60y) ate one apple every day (alternating between Red Delicious and Golden Delicious) for one month they saw a 40% reduction in these OxLDL complexes. When they tested an extract of apples in a capsule (made from a variety of different apples), they saw a benefit over placebo, but only about half of the effect of eating the apples. This difference might have been due to the variation in specific polyphenols between the extract and the apples (although total content was the same)-the difference in the absorption of these compounds from the apple or benefits from other (non-polyphenol) components of the apple.
I should mention that a 40% reduction of oxLDL complexes is considered to be very clinically relevant, and if you look at some of the links below, apples might help the body do a number of other things which support healthy arteries. By the way, organically grown apples have more polyphenols- especially when the growing season and conditions provide a little stress from drought or pests, as these polyphenols are typically the plants way of protecting itself- which apparently transfers to us if we eat them! Check out these links for more about an apple a day.
- The influence of organic/integrated production on the content of phenolic compounds in apple leaves and fruits in four different varieties over a 2-year period.
- Three-year comparison of the polyphenol contents and antioxidant capacities in organically and conventionally produced apples ( Malus domestica Bork. Cultivar ‘Golden Delicious’).
- Evaluation of cardiovascular protective effect of different apple varieties – Correlation of response with composition.
- Improvement of serum antioxidant status in humans after the acute intake of apple juices.
- Flavonoid-rich apples and nitrate-rich spinach augment nitric oxide status and improve endothelial function in healthy men and women: a randomized controlled trial.
- Apple cider vinegar attenuates lipid profile in normal and diabetic rats.