Monday, March 9, 2015

Health Benefits of Apples

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Prescribing an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths such as heart attacks and strokes every year in the UK -- similar to giving statins to everyone over 50 years who is not already taking them -- according to a study in the Christmas edition of The BMJ.

The researchers conclude that the 150 year old public health message: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is able to match more widespread use of modern medicine, and is likely to have fewer side effects. The research takes into account people who are already appropriately taking statins to reduce their risk of vascular disease and therefore the authors stress that no-one currently taking statins should stop, although by all means eat more apples.

In the United Kingdom, lifestyle changes are the recommended first step to prevent heart disease. However, trial data suggest that statins can reduce the risk of vascular events, irrespective of a person's underlying risk of cardiovascular disease. As such, calls are being made for greater use of statins at a population level, particularly for people aged 50 years and over.

Using mathematical models a team of researchers at the University of Oxford set out to test how a 150 year old proverb might compare with the more widespread use of statins in the UK population. They analysed the effect on the most common causes of vascular mortality of prescribing either a statin a day to those not already taking one or an apple a day to everyone aged over 50 years in the UK.

The researchers assumed a 70% compliance rate and that overall calorie intake remained constant.

They estimate that 5.2 million people are currently eligible for statin treatment in the UK and that 17.6 million people who are not currently taking statins would be offered them if they became recommended as a primary prevention measure for everyone over 50.

They calculate that offering a daily statin to 17.6 million more adults would reduce the annual number of vascular deaths by 9,400, while offering a daily apple to 70% of the total UK population aged over 50 years (22 million people) would avert 8,500 vascular deaths.

However, side-effects from statins mean that prescribing statins to everyone over the age of 50 is predicted to lead to over a thousand extra cases of muscle disease (myopathy) and over ten thousand extra diagnoses of diabetes.

Additional modelling showed a further 3% reduction in the annual number of vascular deaths when either apples or statins were prescribed to everybody aged over 30. However the number of adverse events is predicted to double.

"This study shows that small dietary changes as well as increased use of statins at a population level may significantly reduce vascular mortality in the UK," say the authors. "This research adds weight to calls for the increased use of drugs for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, as well as for persevering with policies aimed at improving the nutritional quality of UK diets," they conclude.

Dr Adam Briggs of the BHF Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University said: "The Victorians had it about right when they came up with their brilliantly clear and simple public health advice: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." It just shows how effective small changes in diet can be, and that both drugs and healthier living can make a real difference in preventing heart disease and stroke. While no-one currently prescribed statins should replace them for apples, we could all benefit from simply eating more fruit." 

Polyphenols in green tea and apples block cancer, heart attacks and stroke

Scientists from the Institute of Food Research have found evidence for a mechanism by which certain food compounds could help protect our health.

Dietary studies have shown that people who eat the largest amounts of fruit and vegetables have a reduced risk of developing chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. There could be several reasons for this. Some fruit and vegetables naturally contain high amounts of compounds called polyphenols, which could provide protective health benefits.

In this study, Dr Paul Kroon and his team at IFR have shown that polyphenols in green tea and apples block a signaling molecule called VEGF, which in the body can trigger atherosclerosis and is a target for some anti-cancer drugs.

In the body, VEGF is a main driver of blood vessel formation in these cell types via a process called angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is crucial in cancer progression, as well as in the development of atherosclerotic plaques and plaque rupture that can cause heart attacks and stroke.

Using cells derived from human blood vessels, the researchers found that low concentrations of the polyphenols epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) from green tea and procyanidin from apples stopped a crucial signalling function of VEGF.

Inhibition of VEGF signalling by dietary polyphenols has previously been implicated in other studies, but this study provides the first evidence that polyphenols can directly interact with VEGF to block its signals, at the levels you would see in the blood stream after eating polyphenol rich foods.

"If this effect happens in the body as well, it provides very strong evidence for a mechanism that links dietary polyphenols and beneficial health effects," said Dr Paul Kroon, Research Leader at IFR.

The polyphenols also activated another enzyme signaling system that generates nitric oxide in the blood, which helps widen the blood vessels and prevent damage. This was unexpected, as VEGF itself stimulates nitric oxide, and anti-cancer drugs that block VEGF also reduce nitric oxide, leading to an increased risk of hypertension in some users.

Compound in Apples Inhibits E. coli

A compound that is abundant in apples and strawberries inhibits the highly pathogenic E. coli O157:H7 biofilms while sparing a beneficial strain of E. coli that also forms biofilms in the human gut, according to a paper in the December 2011 issue of the journal Infection and Immunology.

Transcriptome analysis revealed that the compound, called phloretin, suppresses toxin and other genes involved in O157:H7 pathology and biofilm formation. And in a rat model of colitis, phloretin, reduced colon inflammation and body weight loss. "Phloretin has a triple biological activity as an antioxidant compound, a biofilm inhibitor, and an anti-inflammatory agent," says corresponding author Jintae Lee of Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan, Korea.

E. coli O157:H7 causes hemorrhages in the intestine. To date, no effective therapy for O157:H7 biofilms has been found. Biofilms generally are notoriously resistant to antimicrobial therapy. So in the study, Lee screened a dozen flavonoids, including phloretin, for their ability to inhibit these biofilms. "We found that phloretin markedly reduced E. coli O157:H7 biofilm formation on abiotic surface and human colon epithelial cells, while phloretin did not harm commensal E. coli K-12 biofilms," says Lee. Commensal E. coli can actually fortify the human immune system, he says. In addition to its anti- E. coli O157:H7 biofilm activity, phloretin "accounts in part for the antioxidant capacity of apples, and it also shows anti-inflammatory activity," says Lee. "This study suggests that phloretin in apples could reduce the risk of E. coli O157:H7 infection and intestinal inflammation."

"This study demonstrated for the first time that phloretin, a natural flavonoid, is a nontoxic inhibitor of enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 biofilms, but does not harm commensal E. coli K-12 biofilms," Lee writes. "Also, importantly, our results confirmed that phloretin shows anti-inflammatory properties in both the in vitro and in vivo inflammatory colitis models. The effect of phloretin was noticeably more pronounced than that of the conventional [inflammatory bowel disease] drug 5-aminosalicylic acid."

'Apple a day' advice rooted in science

Everyone has heard the old adage, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." We all know we should eat more fruit. But why apples? Do they contain specific benefits?

According to Dr. Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD, Margaret A. Sitton Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at The Florida State University, apples are truly a "miracle fruit" that convey benefits beyond fiber content. Animal studies have shown that apple pectin and polyphenols in apple improve lipid metabolism and lower the production of pro-inflammatory molecules. Arjmandi's most recent research is the first to evaluate the long-term cardioprotective effects of daily consumption of apple in postmenopausal women. The results of this USDA-funded study were presented at Experimental Biology 2011.

This study randomly assigned 160 women ages 45-65 to one of two dietary intervention groups: one received dried apples daily (75g/day for 1 year) and the other group ate dried prunes every day for a year. Blood samples were taken at 3, 6 and 12-months. The results surprised Dr. Arjmandi, who stated that "incredible changes in the apple-eating women happened by 6 months- they experienced a 23% decrease in LDL cholesterol," which is known as the "bad cholesterol." The daily apple consumption also led to a lowering of lipid hydroperoxide levels and C-reactive protein in those women.

"I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol by about 4%," Arjmandi said. Yet another advantage is that the extra 240 calories per day consumed from the dried apple did not lead to weight gain in the women; in fact, they lost on average 3.3 lbs. "Reducing body weight is an added benefit to daily apple intake" he said. Part of the reason for the weight loss could be the fruit's pectin, which is known to have a satiety effect. The next step in confirming the results of this study is a multi-investigator nationwide study.

There is frequently some truth behind our common expressions, and in the case of 'an apple a day,' Dr. Arjmandi has shown that nutrition science backs up the expression. "Everyone can benefit from consuming apples," he said.

An Apple or Pear a Day May Keep Strokes Away

That's the conclusion of a Dutch study published in September 2011 in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association in which researchers found that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables with white flesh may protect against stroke.

While previous studies have linked high consumption of fruits and vegetables with lower stroke risk, the researchers' prospective work is the first to examine associations of fruits and vegetable color groups with stroke.

The color of the edible portion of fruits and vegetables reflects the presence of beneficial phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids.

Researchers examined the link between fruits and vegetable color group consumption with 10-year stroke incidence in a population-based study of 20,069 adults, with an average age of 41. The participants were free of cardiovascular diseases at the start of the study and completed a 178-item food frequency questionnaire for the previous year.

Fruits and vegetables were classified in four color groups:

* Green, including dark leafy vegetables, cabbages and lettuces
* Orange/Yellow, which were mostly citrus fruits
* Red/Purple, which were mostly red vegetables
* White, of which 55 percent were apples and pears

During 10 years of follow-up, 233 strokes were documented. Green, orange/yellow and red/purple fruits and vegetables weren't related to stroke. However, the risk of stroke incidence was 52 percent lower for people with a high intake of white fruits and vegetables compared to people with a low intake.

Each 25 gram per day increase in white fruits and vegetable consumption was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of stroke. An average apple is 120 grams.

"To prevent stroke, it may be useful to consume considerable amounts of white fruits and vegetables," said Linda M. Oude Griep, M.Sc., lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in human nutrition at Wageningen Uninversity in the Netherlands. "For example, eating one apple a day is an easy way to increase white fruits and vegetable intake.

"However, other fruits and vegetable color groups may protect against other chronic diseases. Therefore, it remains of importance to consume a lot of fruits and vegetables."

Apples and pears are high in dietary fiber and a flavonoid called quercetin. In the study, other foods in the white category were bananas, cauliflower, chicory and cucumber.

Potatoes were classified as a starch.

Previous research on the preventive health benefits of fruits and vegetables focused on the food's unique nutritional value and characteristics, such as the edible part of the plant, color, botanical family and its ability to provide antioxidants.

U.S. federal dietary guidelines include using color to assign nutritional value. The U.S. Preventive Health Services Taskforce recommends selecting each day vegetables from five subgroups: dark green, red/orange, legume, starchy and other vegetables.

Before the results are adopted into everyday practice, the findings should be confirmed through additional research, Oude Griep said. "It may be too early for physicians to advise patients to change their dietary habits based on these initial findings," she said.

An accompanying editorial notes that the finding should be interpreted with caution because food frequency questionnaires may not be reliable.

In addition, "the observed reduction in stroke risk might further be due to a generally healthier lifestyle of individuals consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables," writes Heike Wersching, M.D., M.Sc.

An Apple Peel a Day Could Keep Cancer at Bay

An apple peel a day might help keep cancer at bay, according to Rui Hai Liu, Cornell associate professor of food science, who has identified a dozen compounds -- triterpenoids -- in apple peel that either inhibit or kill cancer cells in laboratory cultures. Three of the compounds have not previously been described in the literature.

"We found that several compounds have potent anti-proliferative activities against human liver, colon and breast cancer cells and may be partially responsible for the anti-cancer activities of whole apples," says Liu, who is affiliated with Cornell's Institute of Comparative and Environmental Toxicology and is senior author of the study, which is online and published in 2007 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In previous Cornell studies, apples had been found not only to fight cancer cells in the laboratory but also to reduce the number and size of mammary tumors in rats. The Cornell researchers now think that the triterpenoids may be doing much of the anti-cancer work.

"Some compounds were more potent and acted differently against the various cancer cell lines, but they all show very potent anti-cancer activities and should be studied further," says Liu.

With co-author Xiangjiu He, a Cornell postdoctoral researcher, Liu analyzed the peel from 230 pounds of red delicious apples from the Cornell Orchard and isolated their individual compounds. After identifying the structures of the promising compounds in the peel, the researchers tested the pure compounds against cancer cell growth in the laboratory. In the past, Liu has also identified compounds called phytochemicals -- mainly flavonoids and phenolic acids -- in apples and other foods that appear to be have anti-cancer properties as well, including inhibiting tumor growth in human breast cancer cells.

"We believe that a recommendation that consumers to eat five to 12 servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily is appropriate to reduce the risks of chronic diseases, including cancer, and to meet nutrient requirements for optimum health," said Liu.

Adults who eat apples, drink apple juice have lower risk for metabolic syndrome

Apple product consumers likely to have lower blood pressure, trimmer waistlines, and more nutrient dense diets

Not eating your apple a day" Perhaps you should be. Adults who eat apples, apple juice and applesauce have a significantly reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health problems that are linked to numerous chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study results, presented at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting this week, were derived from an analysis of adult food consumption data collected in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the government’s largest food consumption and health database.

Dr. Victor Fulgoni analyzed the data, specifically looking at the association between consumption of apples and apple products, nutrient intake and various physiological parameters related to metabolic syndrome. When compared to non-consumers, adult apple product consumers had a 27% decreased likelihood of being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

Fulgoni notes, “We found that adults who eat apples and apple products have smaller waistlines that indicate less abdominal fat, lower blood pressure and a reduced risk for developing what is known as the metabolic syndrome.”

In addition to having a 30% decreased likelihood for elevated diastolic blood pressure and a 36% decreased likelihood for elevated systolic blood pressure, apple product consumers also had a 21% reduced risk of increased waist circumference – all predictors of cardiovascular disease and an increased likelihood of metabolic syndrome. Additionally, adult apple product consumers had significantly reduced C-reactive protein levels, another measurable marker related to cardiovascular risk.

Furthermore, apple product consumers’ diets were healthier than non-consumers – they had an overall greater intake of fruit and key nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and potassium. These consumers also ate less total fat, saturated fat, discretionary fat and added sugars.

Apple pectin, apple juice extracts shown to have anticarcinogenic effects on colon

The apples and apple juice you consume may have positive effects in one of the most unlikely places in the body – in the colon. New research has demonstrated that both apple pectin and polyphenol-rich apple juice components actually enhance biological mechanisms that produce anticarcinogenic compounds during the fermentation process.

Using human fecal matter as the test substance, German researchers Dr. Dieter Schrenk, M.D. and his colleagues hypothesized that the compound butyrate could be increased in the presence of apple pectin and apple juice extracts.

Butyrate has been suggested to be a chemopreventative metabolite that might prevent the occurrence of colorectal cancer, which is very common in Western industrialized countries. It is a short chain fatty acid which is seen as a major factor contributing to healthy colon mucosa.

The research notes, “Butyrate not only serves as a major nutrient for the colon epithelia but is also thought to play an important role in the protective effect of natural fiber against colorectal cancer.”

So how do apple pectin and apple juice extracts play a role in increasing amounts of butyrate? The laboratory tests performed by Schrenk found that by the increased production of butyrate via the addition of apple components, histone deacetlyases (HDAC) were inhibited. With slowed production of HDAC, there would be significantly less growth of precancerous and tumor cells.

The research, published in the April 2008 issue of Nutrition, notes, “apples are a major source of natural fiber and of low molecular weight plan polyphenols in the Western diet.” The researchers conclude, “Pectin-rich apple products can thus be expected to exert anticarginogenic effects in the colon.”

Apple consumers reap heart-health benefits thanks to flavonoid content, says new research

Apples may prove to be a winner when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease, says a new study of more than 34,000 women. In this study, flavonoid-rich apples were found to be one of three foods (along with red wine and pears) that decrease the risk of mortality for both coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) among post-menopausal women, The findings were published in the March 2007 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Women of all ages are encouraged to consume more fruit and vegetables, including apples and apple products, for heart health. However, this study focused on postmenopausal woman, a group becoming more aware of the risk for heart disease. Using a government database that assesses the flavonoid-compound content of foods, the researchers hypothesized that flavonoid intake (in general and from specific foods), might be inversely associated with mortality from CVD and CHD among the women in the study groupSubjects selected for this research analysis were postmenopausal and part of the ongoing Iowa Women's Health Study, each of which has been monitored for dietary intake and various health outcomes for nearly 20 years.

As a result of the extensive analysis that considered what the women ate, the types of cardiovascular-related diseases they experienced, and the overall flavonoid content of an extensive list of foods, the researchers concluded that consumption of apples, pears and red wine were linked with the lowest risk for mortality related to both CHD and CVD (not just one or the other).

"Flavonoids are compounds found in small quantities in numerous plant foods, including fruits and vegetables, tea, wine, nuts and seeds, and herbs and spices," say the university researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Oslo (Norway) Earlier research has indicated that flavonoids also have antioxidant properties that are linked to the reduction of oxidation of the bad (LDL - low density lipoprotein) cholesterol which have been linked in various ways with the development of CVD. According to the government database cited in this paper, apples contain a wide variety of flavonoid compounds.

The researchers also believe this is the first prospective study of postmenopausal women to report on the intake and impact of total and specific flavonoid subclasses. They conclude, "Dietary intakes of flavanones, anthocyanins, and certain foods rich in flavonoids were associated with reduced risk of death due to CHD, CVD and all causes."_

The publication of this positive study for apples comes on the heels of updated heart disease prevention guidelines for women just released by the American Heart Association in the February 20 issue of Circulation. As part of their guidelines, AHA emphasizes that women increase their intake of fruits and vegetables to help prevent heart disease over their lifetime, not just to reduce short-term risk. Worldwide, cardiovascular disease is the largest single cause of mortality among women, accounting for one third of all deaths.

Can an apple a day keep asthma away?

Teenagers who forego a healthy and balanced diet may have a harder time catching their breath. A new study, published in CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), shows that a low dietary intake of certain nutrients increases the likelihood of respiratory symptoms such as asthma, especially in teens who smoke. Furthermore, a lack of these nutrients may also lead to lower lung function.

“Our study, as well as other research, suggests that higher intakes of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory micronutrients are associated with lower reports of cough, respiratory infections, and less severe asthma-related symptoms,” said lead study author Jane Burns, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health. “Teenagers who have low dietary intakes of fruit, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids are at greater risk of having asthma, emphasizing the importance of a balanced diet, composed of whole foods.”

While observing 12th-grade students from 12 communities around the US and Canada, Dr. Burns and her colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health, Health Canada, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), examined the associations of low dietary nutrient intake with low pulmonary function and respiratory symptoms.

Over the period of one school year, 2,112 students completed a standardized respiratory questionnaire and a dietary questionnaire. They also answered questions about medication use, smoking habits, and recent exercise, before participating in lung function testing. Dr. Burns explained that the researchers focused on teens because it is the ideal age at which to test lung capacity and eating habits.

“During late adolescence, physical stature has, on average, been attained and lung growth closely parallels this growth. Therefore we were observing a time when lung function was close to its optimal capacity,” she said. “Also, although our diet survey targeted eating habits only during the past year, it did give us some idea of the teens’ general past diet. However, their current respiratory health may be a reflection of diet during childhood, as well as during the past year.”

The majority of adolescents in the study were white, one third was overweight, and 72% did not consume multivitamins. Also, nearly 25% reported smoking on a daily basis. Researchers also found that at least one third of the students’ diets were below the recommended levels of fruit, vegetable, vitamins A and E, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acid intake.

“Vitamin supplements can help teens meet their daily recommended levels,” said Dr. Burns, “and surprisingly, even relatively low levels of omega-3 fatty acids appeared to protect teens from higher reported respiratory symptoms.”

Results showed that low dietary intakes of fruit, vitamins C and E, and omega-3 fatty acids were associated with decreased lung function and a greater risk of chronic bronchitic symptoms, wheeze, and asthma. These risks were further increased among students with the lowest intakes and who also smoked.

“I wish we could say that an apple a day can keep asthma away, but it’s a complex disease with a genetic component. However, it may be that certain foods can lessen or prevent asthma symptoms,” said Dr. Burns. “The most important thing to remember is that diet can have a significant impact on teens’ respiratory health. I would encourage them to make healthy eating a part of their daily routine, and stress to them that smoking is bad.” Researchers emphasized that fresh fruits make for convenient snacks. They also suggest preparing a simple, daily family meal, as a method to promote both communication and good nutrition.

“A balanced diet is not only good for lung health, but for general health,” said Mark J. Rosen, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. “Parents and physicians should work together to monitor and maintain healthy diets and lifestyles for children of all ages.”

Apples, apple juice shown to prevent early atherosclerosis

A new study shows that apples and apple juice are playing the same health league as the often-touted purple grapes and grape juice. The study was published in the April 2008 issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

Researcher Kelly Decorde from the Universite Montpelier in France was part of the European research team that found apples have similar cardiovascular protective properties to grapes. The researchers also observed that processing the fruit into juice has the potential to increase the bioavailability of the naturally-occurring compounds and antioxidants found in the whole fruit.

Using a variety of established analytical techniques, aortic plaque was evaluated to determine the effectiveness in decreasing plaque that is associated with atherosclerosis.

According to the research, “This study demonstrates that processing apples and purple grapes into juice modifies the protective effect of their phenolics against diet induced oxidative stress and early atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic hamsters.”

Researchers also noted, “These results show for the first time that long-term consumption of antioxidants supplied by apples and purple grapes, especially phenolic compounds, prevents the development of atherosclerosis in hamsters, and that the processing can have a major impact on the potential health effects of a product.”

In summary, the researchers stated that their work would help provide encouragement that fruit and fruit juices may have significant clinical and public health relevance.

Apples, Apple Juice Lower Wheezing and Asthma Risk in Children

Published in the September 2007 issue of Thorax, the latest study finds that when women ate apples during pregnancy, researchers found a significant decrease in asthma and wheezing among their children when the children were followed over five years and reached five years of age.

This unique longitudinal study tracked dietary intake by 1253 mother-child pairs. According to the researchers that conducted medical evaluations for asthma and related symptoms (i.e., wheezing) in the children, they found no other association with decreased risk other than for apple consumption. The only other positive association found between prenatal food intake and risk reduction in the children was with fish intake by the mothers, for which the researchers found that children of mothers who ate fish had a lowered incidence of doctor-confirmed eczema.

A similar but different study published June 2007 also showed a link between apple juice consumption and a reduction in wheezing among children. That study was published in June’s European Respiratory Journal.

Among children who experienced what was characterized as “current wheeze” (where the child had wheezing or whistling in the chest in the last 12 months), there was a significant, dose response association between consumption of apple juice and a reduced incidence of the wheezing. The researchers found that drinking apple juice made from concentrate and consumption of bananas one or more times a day (compared to drinking apple juice or eating bananas less than once a month) was directly associated with improvement of wheezing occurences.

According to the authors of the Thorax paper, the protective effect from apples is attributable to their powerful phytochemical content, which includes flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and phenolic acids. Apples and apple products combined are the largest source of free phenolics in people’s diet in the US and in Europe.

The American Lung Association states that asthma remains a major public health concern. In 2003, approximately 20 million Americans had asthma and the condition accounted for an estimated 12.8 million lost school days in children. Asthma ranks within the top ten prevalent conditions causing limitation of activity and costs our nation $16.1 billion in health care costs annually.

Naturally-occurring apple compounds reduce risk of pancreatic cancer

Smokers benefit most from intake of 'hidden' plant nutrients

Eating flavonol-rich foods like apples may help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, says a team of international researchers. Quercetin, which is found naturally in apples and onions, has been identified as one of the most beneficial flavonols in preventing and reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer. Although the overall risk was reduced among the study participants, smokers who consumed foods rich in flavonols had a significantly greater risk reduction.

This study, published in the October 15, 2011 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, is the first of its kind to evaluate the effect of flavonols – compounds found specifically in plants – on developing pancreatic cancer. According to the research paper, “only a few prospective studies have investigated flavonols as risk factors for cancer, none of which has included pancreatic cancer. “

Researchers from Germany, the Univ. of Hawaii and Univ. of Southern California tracked food intake and health outcomes of 183,518 participants in the Multiethnic Cohort Study for eight years. The study evaluated the participants’ food consumption and calculated the intake of the three flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin. The analyses determined that flavonol intake does have an impact on the risk for developing pancreatic cancer.

The most significant finding was among smokers. Smokers with the lowest intake of flavonols presented with the most pancreatic cancer. Smoking is an established risk factor for the often fatal pancreatic cancer, notes the research.

Among the other findings were that women had the highest intake of total flavonols and seventy percent of the flavonol intake came from quercetin, linked to apple and onion consumption.

It is believed that these compounds may have anticancer effects due to their ability to reduce oxidative stress and alter other cellular functions related to cancer development.

“Unlike many of the dietary components, flavonols are concentrated in specific foods rather than in broader food groups, for example, in apples rather than in all fruit,” notes the research study. Previously, the most consistent inverse association was found between flavonols, especially quercetin in apples and lung cancer, as pointed out in this study. No other epidemiological flavonol studies have included evaluation of pancreatic cancer.

While found in many plants, flavonols are found in high concentrations in apples, onions, tea, berries, kale, and broccoli. Quercetin is most plentiful in apples and onions.

Apple fiber offers many benefits
A report, in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety March 2010 finds that apple fiber, a soluble type of fiber, is rich in pectin. Soluble or gel-forming fibers absorb water from the digestive tract. This helps to increase the size of the stool and normalize its transit time through the bowel. Soluble fiber can be beneficial in cases of constipation and diarrhea. Having adequate fiber in the diet may also have a protective effect against diverticulosis, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. Studies have shown that apple fiber, when used as part of a calorie-controlled diet, can enhance weight loss.

Similarly, a study conducted to visualize the effect of apple fiber on lowering of increased plasma and liver cholesterol, it was found that apple fiber or pectin substantially reduces the same when fed at 2.5% or 5% in the diet (Wells and Ershoff 1961).

Apple fiber has a mild appetite suppressing effect by producing a sense of fullness; it also improves the process of digestion and elimination by stimulating healthy bowel functioning.

The pectin in apple fiber helps to normalize the levels of fats in the blood stream. Research has shown that apple fiber taken each day can have the effect of reducing total cholesterol up to 10% in people with elevated cholesterol levels (

An apple a day could keep obesity away

Scientists at Washington State University have concluded that nondigestible compounds in apples – specifically, Granny Smith apples – may help prevent disorders associated with obesity. The study, thought to be the first to assess these compounds in apple cultivars grown in the Pacific Northwest, appears in October’s print edition of the journal Food Chemistry.

“We know that, in general, apples are a good source of these nondigestible compounds but there are differences in varieties,” said food scientist Giuliana Noratto, the study’s lead researcher. “Results from this study will help consumers to discriminate between apple varieties that can aid in the fight against obesity.”

The tart green Granny Smith apples benefit the growth of friendly bacteria in the colon due to their high content of non-digestible compounds, including dietary fiber and polyphenols, and low content of available carbohydrates. Despite being subjected to chewing, stomach acid and digestive enzymes, these compounds remain intact when they reach the colon. Once there, they are fermented by bacteria in the colon, which benefits the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut.

The study showed that Granny Smith apples surpass Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Red Delicious in the amount of nondigestible compounds they contain.

“The nondigestible compounds in the Granny Smith apples actually changed the proportions of fecal bacteria from obese mice to be similar to that of lean mice,” Noratto said.

The discovery could help prevent some of the disorders associated with obesity such as low-grade, chronic inflammation that can lead to diabetes. The balance of bacterial communities in the colon of obese people is disturbed. This results in microbial byproducts that lead to inflammation and influence metabolic disorders associated with obesity, Noratto said.

“What determines the balance of bacteria in our colon is the food we consume,” she said.

Re-establishing a healthy balance of bacteria in the colon stabilizes metabolic processes that influence inflammation and the sensation of feeling satisfied, or satiety, she said.

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