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Two apples a day keeps cholesterol at bay – University of Reading

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Two apples a day keeps cholesterol at bay

Release Date 16 December 2019

Two apples


Peer Reviewed


Eating two apples a day has been shown to help keep cholesterol down and fight heart disease risk according to new research.

In a paper published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a team of scientists led by the University of Reading in collaboration with the Fondazione Edmund Mach (FEM) Institute, Italy found that eating apples which were rich in fibre and compounds called polyphenols reduced the amount of total and LDL cholesterol and improved markers associated with blood vessel health in participants who had slightly raised blood cholesterol levels.

Professor Julie Lovegrove, Director of the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition at the University of Reading said:

“This latest study shows that the impact of an easy to implement dietary change could have an important impact on key measures of heart disease risk. A particular interest in this study is how the two whole apples, rather than a sugar and calorie matched apple juice drink, has had a significant effect on markers of heart health of participants.

“It seems the old adage of an apple day was nearly right.”

The team used Renetta Canada apples grown in the Trentino Italy, which were rich in a type of polyphenol compound called proanthocyanidins (PAs) and a matched apple juice squash as a control. While the control drink was similar in calories and total sugar the whole apple used had significantly higher proportions of fibre (8.5g vs <0.5g, respectively) and total polyphenol content (990mg vs 2.5mg, respectively).

Dr Thanasis Koutsos, who performed the study, said:

“One of the clear findings from this study is that simple small changes in our diet such as the daily introduction of 2 apples may have an important impact on markers of heart health.

“We don’t yet know whether the fibre that is found in the apple or the polyphenol which is in significantly greater concentration in the apples we used is responsible for the results. Either way, the clear winner here is the whole food”

Full citation:

Koutsos. A, et al. 2019, Two apples a day lower serum cholesterol and improve cardiometabolic biomarkers in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz282


In addition, Professor Julie Lovegrove and a team from the University of Reading have been worked with partners on the EIT Food Quisper programme which is developing a personalised nutrition advisory service that aims to bring quality information and advice for individuals.

Through user-generated data, Quisper delivers individual, evidence-based nutritional advice suited to consumer needs.

Prof Lovegrove said:

“Personalised nutrition is becoming more and more popular at the moment, but one of the significant hurdles is that current systems are either expensive or not backed up good evidence. The EIT Food Quisper programme is developing a new app that will use the data you feed it to tell you whether your diet stacks up with best practice guidelines and will help people to make ongoing changes to improve the quality of what they eat gradually rather than all in one go.”

Further information: 

The apples used in the trial were provided by the Consorzio Melinda SCA consortium of growers from Trentino in Italy and the study was a collaboration between the University of Reading and Dr Kieran Tuohy and Prof Fulvio Mattivi.


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