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Apples, apple juice consumption linked to lower risk of metabolic syndrome

Contact: Denise Yockey
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(DeWitt, Mich.) – You may want to think twice before passing over an apple in favor of a less healthy snack, especially in light of new findings that associate consumption of the fruit with trimmer waistlines and lower blood pressure.

In the analysis of food consumption data, adults who consume apples, apple juice and applesauce were shown to 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. Metabolic syndrome is believed to affect an estimated 36 million Americans.  Also known as Syndrome X and insulin resistance syndrome, metabolic syndrome is defined as having three or more of the associated symptoms, which include elevated blood pressure, increased waist size and abdominal fat, and elevated c-reactive protein levels. 

Earlier this week attendants at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting heard the results of a study that were derived from the 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 percent 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 percent decreased likelihood for elevated diastolic blood pressure and a 36 percent decreased likelihood for elevated systolic blood pressure, apple product consumers also had a 21 percent 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.

Michigan Apple Committee nutrition spokesperson Judy MacNeill said, “We've known for centuries that apples are good for you, but these new findings prove that apple juice and applesauce are also very beneficial to your health.”

Furthermore, apple product consumers' diets were healthier than non-consumers – they had a 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.