An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away . . . and Lowers Cholesterol

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • Apples are a tasty and simple snack you can carry with you as a healthy addition to your diet. Let's talk about how this common piece of fruit can benefit you as you work to improve cholesterol levels.


    Here are a few health benefits linked to apples:


    1. Pectin in apples promotes a steady blood sugar
    2. Maintain healthy lung function
    3. Promote weight loss as a low calorie, nutrient dense snack
    4. Known as "nature's toothbrush" due to gum and teeth cleaning abilities
    5. Tannins protect against urinary tract infections


    Pectin to Lower LDL Cholesterol


    Apples are a great source of pectin. Pectin is a type of soluble fiber and soluble fibers are especially beneficial for lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

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    Soluble fibers work in two ways:


    1. Slow bile acid recycling
    2. Decrease cholesterol absorption


    Pectin is a viscous gel-forming fiber and binds to bile acids. This reduces bile acid recycling time and increases bile acid excretion. This means fewer bile acids are in circulation and the liver must use cholesterol to replenish supplies. In order to make bile acids the liver uses LDL cholesterol in circulation, which leads to reduced LDL cholesterol levels.


    Pectin also reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. This means less cholesterol returns to the liver to be packaged into VLDL or LDL particles released into circulation.


    High Level of Antioxidants


    A second plus for increasing your apple intake, other than the pectin fiber, is the high concentration of antioxidants. A 2005 study of commonly consumed apple varieties found Fuji, Red Delicious, Gala, and Liberty to have the greatest levels of heart healthy antioxidants and polyphenols. Polyphenols are a specific antioxidant linked to reduced chronic disease risk, such as heart disease.

    Slowed LDL Oxidation


    And benefit number three, a University of California study at David showed apples to significantly slow LDL oxidation. LDL oxidation is an initial step in the process that leads to arterial plaque.


    Tips for adding apples to your diet


    Eat the whole apple, including the peel. The peel contains a large quantity of the polyphenols and 6 times the antioxidant activity versus the flesh. The skin also provides 1 gram of fiber 50% of the vitamin C provided by an apple.


    Be aware of pesticides. Thoroughly rinse your apples before eating. Select organically grown apples when possible and utilize your local farmers markets.


    Be sure to sign up for the free e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps at



Published On: July 19, 2010