Apples have enormous health benefits. One of these is prevention of heart attacks and strokes, in which apples’ benefits far outweigh those of prescription drugs. In the medical world (which I distinguish from the real world), the most touted preventative for heart attacks and strokes is statin drugs. These would be the ones with –statin on the end of their name, such as atorvastatin, simvastatin, and pravastatin. These drugs supposedly prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol. There are a few problems with this strategy, though.
First of all, even research sanctioned by the medical community indicates that only 18 out of every 1,000 people taking statin drugs have a lower incidence of heart disease.
Second, the old idea that cholesterol causes heart attacks was debunked some time ago. An INTERHEART study showed there is no link between the cholesterol in food and levels of cholesterol in the blood. Moreover, statistics show that in Japan, where cholesterol levels have risen over recent years, the number of heart attacks has dropped. An 8-year Chinese study—the largest ever conducted on the risks of heart disease compared 10,000 people with high cholesterol levels. Half of them received a popular statin drug, while the other half were instructed just to eat a normal diet and get enough exercise. Although the statin drug did lower cholesterol, this had absolutely no impact whatsoever on death rate, non-fatal heart attacks, or fatal arterial disease, i.e., there was a zero advantage to taking statin drugs. The conclusion: “Lowering cholesterol either through drugs or low fat diets does not lower the risk of developing heart disease.”
Third, the side effects of statin drugs are potentially lethal. According to a Harvard study, they can cause liver failure, a 50% increase in the risk for developing diabetes, kidney failure, cataracts, and severe muscle weakness, as well as a host of other adverse effects such as nausea, diarrhea, dementia, depression, chronic fatigue, and…get this…heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. What? Statins can cause the very conditions they are supposed to protect you from.
Fourth, there are heart disease prevention strategies that pose zero risk of any of these serious conditions that are at least as effective at preventing heart attacks as statin drugs. One of these is simply to eat apples. A study by the University of Michigan Health System found that eating apples and apple products reduces the body’s load of oxidative stress, boosts heart health and heart function, and lowers blood pressure. It also lowers cholesterol levels, although—as we’ve just learned—that does not really offer heart health benefits.
These are far from the only health benefits that apples provide, however. They are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene, flavonoids, phytoesterols, and other vitamins and minerals, which combat infection and disease and promote healing. They are helpful to the digestive system because they contain fiber and beneficial bacteria, and the skins of apples are rich in triterpenoid compounds that prevent cancer cells from forming.
Here’s what some of the research on the benefits of apples has discovered:
• The pectin in apples prevents gallstones, detoxifies the body of various toxins (including aluminum), counteracts the adverse effects of radiation therapy, and slows food absorption to benefit people with diabetes, hypoglycemia, and obesity
• Large European studies show that eating just 2 apples a week can prevent and promote healing of asthma, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation
• Research at the University of California found that apples can prevent tumor formation
• Eating apples can reduce heart disease risk by up to 20%
• Apple peels inhibit aging and prevent cancer. In fact, apple skin can lower colon cancer risk by 43% and liver cancer risk by 57%, as well as deterring abnormal cell growth
• The flavonoid phloridzin—found only in apples, by the way—may increase bone density and protect against osteoporosis, according to French researchers
• Cornell University researchers found that the quercetin contained in apples may protect the brain from the free radical damage that leads to Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also found that eating just 1 apple a day reduced breast cancer risk by 17%, and eating 3 apples a day reduced the risk by 39%
• Eating apples on a regular basis lowers your risk of developing lung cancer by 50%
• A Brazilian weight loss study shows that women who ate 3 apples a day lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t
• Women who consume apples regularly during pregnancy reduce their child’s risk of asthma
• Eating apples promotes oral health and clearer, healthy skin
For the greatest health and beauty benefits, choose organic apples.
Don’t think you can eat a plain apple every day? Try apples in these recipes:
• Apple pie porridge
• Purple cabbage and apple salad
• Raw applesauce
• Apple crisp topped with raw caramel
• Carrot-apple date bites
• Apple cobbler with maple cream
• Fennel apple pecan salad
• Or juice a couple of apples with a carrot and a tiny knob of ginger
Got the urge for an apple? Go ahead and give in! It'll do you good.