They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Is that because it also keeps cardiovascular disease at bay?
Researchers from the University of Minnesota set out to see if there is any association between flavonoid intake and risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.
As part of this analysis, they studied individual, flavonoid-rich foods, including apples, to determine if these individual foods had any association as well as overall flavonoid intake.
This is the part you apple-lovers came here for.
To determine any potential association, they analyzed the results from over 34,000 post-menopausal women who participated in the Iowa Women’s Health Study.
These women completed a 16-page food-frequency questionnaire and were followed up with for 16 years. After analysis of the resulting data, the researchers found that apples (along with pears and red wine) showed a decreased risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease mortality among the participants.
They found a decreased rate ratio of coronary heart disease mortality of 15% among those participants who consumed more than one apple a week and a decreased rate ratio of cardiovascular disease mortality of 13% for similar consumption, compared to those who consumed less than one apple a week.
So this is really good news, right?
Of course, yes, it is encouraging news. But there are a couple of grains of salt to take as well.
First of all, although this analysis used a very large group of subjects (which is great) it was restricted to post-menopausal women only. So it doesn’t tell us whether these results would be replicated among other age groups and genders.
Secondly, the food questionnaire did not include all flavonoid-rich foods. Which begs the question: if someone consumed apples frequently, were they more or less likely to consume other flavonoid-rich foods as well? And, if they did, how much of the resulting decrease in rate was due to the apples, the other foods, or a combination of them all?
More detailed questionnaires would help us answer that question.
So while this study does not tell us absolutely everything we’d like to know, it sure does give us a great start. And, combined with other research on flavonoids and apples specifically, it does seem to paint a picture of the overall health benefit apples could provide.
So keep being mindful of what you consume and be sure to talk to your doctor about the best dietary plan for you.
And keep your eyes open for all the latest information. We are learning more about diet every day!
Here’s to your health!
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