(WIBW) - A new study would seem to prove the old addage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" - at least when it comes to women and their hearts.
The study followed 160 post-menopausal women eating the equivalent of four apples a day for a year. Carol Bragdon, ARNP with Topeka's Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center, said the women who ate the apples lowered their cholesterol compared to a control group that ate other kinds of fruit. Not only that - despite the few hundred extra calories the apples added each day, the apple-eaters lost five to six pounds over the year.
Bragdon says the key seems to be certain chemicals in apples, along with their soluble fiber. She says soluble fiber is the kind that turns to a gel-like substance that binds with bad cholesterol so it can be excreted from the body.
While the women eating apples saw a greater benefit than those eating other fruits in the study, Bragdon says any healthy fiber-rich diet helps the heart. She says such a diet should include whole grains, fruit, vegetables and nuts. Bragdon says fiber-rich foods tend to help people fill up faster, so they consume fewer calories. Plus they help control blood sugar. Therefore, risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes that contribute to cardiovascular disease are helped by eating a healthy diet.
Bragdon says the average women gets 11 grams of fiber a day - they should aim for 20 to 25 grams, while men should shoot for 30 to 38. It's recommended you increase fiber intake gradually to avoid gastrointestinal problems.