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UC Davis study finds heart benefits from apples & juice

SACRAMENTO, Calif. 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. Results of the pioneering clinical study appear in the winter edition of Journal of Medicinal Food.

The study shows that compounds in apples and apple juice act in much the same way that red wine and tea do to slow one of the processes that lead to heart disease. These compounds act as antioxidants to delay the break down of LDL or "bad" cholesterol. When LDL oxidizes, or deteriorates in the blood, plaque accumulates along the walls of the coronary artery and causes atherosclerosis.

"Previous studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease," says Dianne Hyson, a registered dietician and lead researcher of the study. "But this is the first clinical study to show the potential benefits of active compounds in apple juice and apples."

Hyson and her colleagues previously conducted an in vitro, or lab study, to show that apples and their juice contain beneficial phytonutrients, or plant compounds, that function as potent antioxidants. Their next step was to conduct an in vivo, or human trial, to determine whether the compounds actually protect the heart by slowing the process of LDL oxidation.

Although Hyson expected to see positive results from drinking apple juice and eating apples, she was surprised to find beneficial effects after only six weeks.

"A very moderate intake of apple juice or apples has the potential to reduce risk factors for heart disease in a fairly short period of time," she says. "These small diet changes might play an important role in a heart healthy diet."

During the 12-week clinical study, 25 healthy adult men and women added either 12 ounces of 100 percent apple juice or two apples into their daily diet without Apple study in humans changing anything else. Half of the partici
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Contact: Carole Gan
cfgan@ucdavis.edu
916-734-9047
University of California, Davis - Health System
19-Feb-2001


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