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Apple-a-Day Drops 'Bad' Cholesterol 40 Percent


Statins, schmatins. Just eat one whole apple a day and you can cut your cholesterol.

By a lot.

Or so a new study from Ohio State University suggests. A group of healthy older adults ages 40 to 60 who ate an apple a day for four weeks ended up lowering their levels of LDL - called the "bad" cholesterol because it gums up the arteries - by a whopping 40 percent.

Wow, we thought, that old saying really is true. Plus, it's now peak apple season - what a perfect segue from health to food to recipes. (Anyone for a nice baked apple with walnuts?)

But after more closely reading the study, published online in the Journal of Functional Foods, we realized there are a couple of caveats. First of all, it was funded by an apple-industry association. Second, it was a pretty small group - just 16 adults who ate apples, another 17 who took capsules containing antioxidants found in apples, and 18 people who took placebo pills containing no antioxidants.

On the other hand, achieving such a large decrease in such a small group makes this research not only statistically significant, but relevant because of the size of the effect. And the researchers were careful to use adults who had not been regular apple eaters - typically consuming just two a month - to offset the influence from their regular diet.

Plus, it echoes other recent research, including a study last year from Florida State University that found similar results among older women who ate apples daily.

While the subjects in the Ohio State study who took the the polyphenol (antioxidant) capsules also showed improvement in their cholesterol levels, it wasn't as strong as from consuming whole apples, said lead researcher Robert DiSilvestro, who called the results from eating just one apple a day "a tremendous effect."

The other good news: In the study, the subjects ate either a red or golden Delicious apple purchased from a supermarket, but you can branch out to other varieties, especially now that this fall's apple harvest is showing up in farmers' markets as well as local groceries.

In other health news:

Stop kissing your dog - you're giving him gum disease. A Wall Street Journal story reports that dog owners and their pets may exchange harmful mouth bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay in both humans and canines, according to a report in Archives of Oral Biology. While studies have shown that parents can transmit oral bacteria to children, few studies have looked at bacteria pets may get from their owners.

CVS Caremark prescription refills investigated for possible Medicare fraud. The Los Angeles Times reports that Medicare is investigating whether CVS Caremark Corp., the country's second-largest drugstore chain, has refilled prescriptions and submitted insurance claims without patients' approval, according to an official with knowledge of the matter.

Eat more chocolate, win more Nobel Prizes. A study ties chocolate consumption to the number of Nobel Prize winners a country has and suggests it's a sign that the sweet treat can boost brainpower, reports. And no, this isn't a joke: The research, which looked at per-capita chocolate consumption and number of Nobels, appeared in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine - but as a "note" rather than a rigorous, peer-reviewed study.

Photo: Getty Images

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