13/03/2020

Apples are shown to help prevent cardiovascular diseases

Researchers from the NFOC-Salut group at the URV have analysed the results of the latest studies carried out in the frame of the AppleCOR project, which examines the effect of consuming anthocyanin-rich apple flesh on reducing cholesterol

Researchers from the NFOC-Salut group at the URV.

It is often said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away; however, despite their popularity, it is difficult to determine exactly what the health benefits of eating apples are. To get a better understanding of this, researchers from the NFOC-Salut group at the URV have conducted a thorough analysis of the effects of consuming a whole apple every day and to what extent their consumption is related to the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases such as a stroke or heart attack.

The scientific evidence provided by observational studies that analyse the relationship between what people eat and their health demonstrates that individuals who eat at least one apple a day (approximately 100 g) for a minimum of one year reduce their risk of dying from any cause by 14%, their risk of dying from a stroke by 27%  and their risk of dying from a cardiac arrest or having a stroke by 25%. Furthermore, they reduce their risk of hypertension by 9% and their risk of a hardened aorta by 24%.

Furthermore, the effect of consuming apples has been verified by nutritional intervention studies  and has been demonstrated to have a beneficial effect on blood lipid levels. In particular, the consumption of an apple a day for at least eight weeks reduces total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) levels. In addition to these benefits, consuming an apple a day increases levels of HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”).

The benefits of eating apples are not just limited to blood lipids; consuming one a day for at least six weeks decreases the levels of inflammation by reducing a group of proteins known as “pro-inflammatory cytokines” and through other inflammation markers in the blood, such as the C-reactive protein. Likewise, the ingestion of 200 g of apple reduced blood pressure and improves arterial function for the following two hours.  These advantages were demonstrated regardless of the variety of apple that was eaten; however, the researchers emphasised that extent of the benefits varies according to the geographic origin of the apples eaten, because conditions such as the climate, the time of harvesting and the type of soil significantly change their nutritional composition (that is, their phenolic, mineral, fibre and vitamin content). The components of an apple are thus key to explaining their various benefits for human health, in particular the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, which are the most common cause of illness and death in the West.

These results form part of the AppleCOR Project, which is supported by the Spanish Ministry for the Economy and Competitiveness, the State Research Agency and the European Fund for Regional Development (FEDER). The doctoral thesis of Andrée Sandoval has been produced under the auspices of this project; he is one of the doctoral students jointly funded by the Fundació La Pedrera and one of the 45 doctoral students contracted through the URV’s Martí i Franquès COFUND programme (an action by the Casa Skłodowska-Curie of the Horizon 2020 programme).

Reference: The effects and associations of whole-apple intake on diverse cardiovascular risk factors. A narrative review. Berner Andrée Sandoval-Ramírez, Úrsula Catalán, Lorena Calderón-Pérez, Judit Companys, Laura Pla-Pagà, Iziar A. Ludwig, María Paz Romero, Rosa Solà.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2019.1709801

  • AppleCor project (AGL2016-76943-C2-2-R y AGL2016-76943-C2-1-R)
  • Martí i Franquès COFUND (Marie Skłodowska-Curie – Horizon 2020, GA 713679)

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