A few apples a day helps keep inflammation away.
This new take on an old saying is prompted by a recent research article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The six-week study of 40 six overweight/obese individuals looked at how daily consumption of three apples a day (about 7 ounces) impacted blood markers for inflammation. One factor that links obesity to cardiovascular disease is chronic low grade inflammation.
A blood test for C-reactive protein (CRP) provides hard data on inflammation and is usually increased in people with overweight/obesity. CRP is predictive of cardiovascular disease so interventions to lower levels benefit the heart.
The authors state this is the first study to focus on apples in an overweight population. After six weeks, the CRP levels in the apple eating group were significantly lower even though weight had not changed. That’s good news.
Apples are widely consumed and are the second-largest contributor to antioxidant consumption in the Western diet. Apples are rich in polyphenols that not only reduce inflammation but also help with blood pressure and keeping blood vessels flexible.
Apples also contain quercetin and procyanidins. Quercetin boosts the immune system.
To ensure the highest intake of phytochemicals, eat the flesh and peel. Juice does not get the job done. Research has shown that apples with the peel were better able to inhibit cell proliferation, which is a measure of the ability of a compound to inhibit the growth of tumor cells. Apples are also associated with better pulmonary health.
What I also found interesting in this study was that when the participants were in the apple-eating phase of the study, their total calorie intake was about the same as baseline, when they weren’t eating the apples. They were not given instruction to eat less, they did it naturally. Possibly the additional 13 grams of fiber from the apples provided a feeling of fullness.
How do you like them apples?
Sheah Rarback MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice in Miami. [email protected]