An apple a day may keep the cardiologist away. That’s the news from Ohio State University, where researchers looked at the effects of apple consumption on heart health.

In this study of healthy, middle-aged adults, consumption of one apple a day for four weeks lowered by 40 percent blood levels of a substance linked to hardening of the arteries.

The study, funded by an apple industry group, found that the apples lowered blood levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol, according to a university press release. When LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals to become oxidized, the cholesterol is more likely to promote inflammation and can cause tissue damage.

“When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,” said lead researcher Robert DiSilvestro, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University and a researcher at the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

“We got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks,” he added.

For the study, the researchers recruited nonsmoking, healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60 who had a history of eating apples less than twice a month and who didn’t take supplements containing polyphenols or other plant-based concentrates.

In all, 16 participants ate a large Red or Golden Delicious apple purchased at a Columbus-area grocery store daily for four weeks; 17 took capsules containing 194 milligrams of polyphenols a day for four weeks; and 18 took a placebo containing no polyphenols. The researchers found no effect on oxidized LDLs in those taking the placebo, and a small effect in those subjects taking the polyphenol capsules.

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