Daily apple intake tied to lower cholesterol levels

For many seniors, eating an apple a day might just seem like a simple dietary routine, but the results of a new study suggest it may play an important role in healthy aging. Researchers from Ohio State University say a daily apple could improve heart health and help manage levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), sometimes referred to as "bad cholesterol."

The study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, followed a group of healthy middle-aged adults. One group ate an apple each day, while another took a supplement of antioxidants and the third took a placebo. Over the course of the four-week study, the group that ate a daily apple enjoyed a 40 percent drop in the levels of LDL in their blood. High levels of LDL are associated with a number of conditions that can threaten senior health.

"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. "We got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks.”

Though the study was small - involving just over 50 participants - the results are significant and highlight the important role nutrition can play in a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Furthermore, the results are similar to findings from a 2011 Florida State University study that found women who consumed dried apples daily lowered their LDL levels.

Taken together, the studies are especially important given the prevalence of heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and is responsible for about 25 percent of all deaths.