This time of year, farmers’ markets are overflowing with a bounty of fresh-picked apples. These fruits are more than just a sweet and crunchy treat; they’re also jam-packed with vitamins and polyphenols that make them an essential part of a bone-healthy diet.
Today we’ll look at the science behind the bone-building nutrients found in apples, and we’ll examine a meta-analysis study that proved the incredible power of this fruit for the prevention of stroke and heart attack. In fact, apples matched the mortality reduction results of statin drugs, such as Lipitor (atorvastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin), and Zocor (simvastatin) –to name a few– prescribed to lower cholesterol levels.
Apples And Bone Health
Apples contain a flavonoid called phloridzin that isn’t found anywhere else in nature.
French scientists conducted a study on how phloridzin impacts the bone mineral density (BMD) of rats with induced bone-loss. They found that phloridzin prevents bone loss by reducing inflammation and improving bone resorption.1
Additionally, apples provide other nutrients that support the bone remodeling process. A medium sized apple contains 15 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of both fiber and Vitamin C. Together these nutrients support liver function. Liver health is closely linked to bone health. Studies have shown that osteoporosis is a common complication of chronic liver disease.2 Additionally, Vitamin C is necessary to produce collagen, which makes up 90% of the organic material of bone.3
Apples are confirmed bone builders, but that’s not the only reason you should make them part of your daily diet.
Apples contain the flavonoid phloridzin, fiber, and Vitamin C, which help reverse osteoporosis.
Apples And Statins
A meta-analysis study conducted in the UK took a familiar proverb, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and put it to the test. They compared the effects of the fruit when eaten once daily with the effects of a daily statin.
Statins are a class of drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol levels with the goal of preventing stroke, heart attack, and death from heart disease. However, this study has shown that the same goals can be achieved without the risk of dangerous side-effects caused by statins.
“Our study suggests that both nutritional and pharmaceutical population approaches to primary prevention of vascular disease have the potential to have a significant effect on population mortality. We find that a 150-year-old proverb is able to match modern medicine and is likely to have fewer side effects.”4
Instead of taking a potentially harmful pill every day, you can eat a safe and delicious apple to protect your heart and your health.
A UK study has shown that apples matched the effects of statins for the prevention of strokes, heart attacks, and premature death from heart disease.
Statin Prescription Changes
New prescription guidelines issued by the American Heart Association in 2013 increased the number of patients eligible for a statin prescription by about 13 million. The new recommendation uses a risk-assessment score to determine a 10-year-risk of a cardiovascular event.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined how the new guidelines would impact prescribing practices.
The new guidelines would increase the number of U.S. adults receiving or eligible for statin therapy from 43.2 million (37.5%) to 56.0 million (48.6%). Most of this increase in numbers (10.4 million of 12.8 million) would occur among adults without cardiovascular disease. Among adults between the ages of 60 and 75 years without cardiovascular disease who are not receiving statin therapy, the percentage who would be eligible for such therapy would increase from 30.4% to 87.4% among men and from 21.2% to 53.6% among women.5
The new guidelines encourage doctors to write prescriptions for many adults who were never going to experience a cardiovascular event, regardless of whether they took the drug.5
Anyone taking statins risks suffering their life-altering side effects. It’s a travesty that under the new guidelines even more people will be prescribed the drugs unnecessarily and then develop health problems as a result.
The new guidelines for statin prescriptions increase the number of adults eligible for statin therapy by 12.8 million. Those taking statins risk having serious, life-altering side-effects.
Statin Side Effects
Statin use causes an array of side-effects, the most notable of which is diabetes.
One study included 161,808 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years and found that women who took statins were 48% more likely to develop diabetes than women who did not.6
Another study, conducted in San Antonio, Texas, found that statin users have a 34% higher risk of cataracts. Cataracts, which create blockages in the field of vision, cause low vision and blindness.7 Eyesight is essential to preventing falls, which are the primary cause of fractures.
Bisphosphonates are also guilty of causing side-effects that reduce vision. An observational study published in 2016 found that oral bisphosphonates increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration.8 Statins and bisphosphonates work by blocking the same biological pathway, and both disrupt the natural bone remodeling process.
Here are some other troubling side-effects caused by statins:9
- Muscle pain experienced as tiredness, soreness, or weakness
- Rhabdomyolysis, the rapid breakdown of muscle tissue which can also cause liver damage and kidney failure
- Liver damage, which in turn results in bone loss
- Memory loss
Statins cause side effects including cataracts, diabetes, muscle pain, rhabdomyolysis (rapid muscle tissue breakdown), liver damage, kidney failure, and neurological problems.
Apples Instead Of Statins
Science has shown that the vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols in apples are effective at improving cardiovascular health.
We recommend that you always buy organic apples. Conventionally grown apples are consistently ranked by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) as one of the 12 most pesticide-ridden fruits.
Apples are delicious in their natural state. You don’t need to cook them, chill them, or even slice them to enjoy. You can incorporate apples into your diet as a stand-alone snack, but when you’re ready for more variety, try these recipes (both gluten-free):
Quinoa Apple Salad
- 3 cups quinoa, cooked
- ½ cup red onions, diced
- 1 cup red apple, diced
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained
- ¼ cup dried cranberries, blueberries, or cherries
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
- In a large bowl mix all the ingredients, except walnuts.
- Serve with your favorite salad dressing.
Amazing Apple Cake (Gluten-Free)
- 2 large sweet apples, unpeeled and diced small
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder (adjust to taste)
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Chopped walnuts for topping
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a bowl, mix almond flour, baking powder, coconut oil, almond milk, stevia, vanilla, lemon zest, and eggs.
- Mix until well combined, then fold in the diced apples.
- Line an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Press the cake mixture carefully into the pan, ensuring that the apples are pressed down firmly into the cake mix.
- Bake for 45 to 70 minutes, but insert a toothpick after 45 minutes to make sure it won’t overcook. If the toothpick comes out clean, it means the cake is ready.
- When ready, remove the cake from the oven and leave it in the pan for one hour before serving.
- Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Store in the refrigerator.
Apples For Your Heart, Your Bones, Your Health
Foods provide us with all the compounds we need to stay healthy. So instead of taking prescription drugs, focus on the joy of eating a well-balanced and delicious diet that provides your body with everything it needs.
1 Puel, Quintin, et al. “Prevention of bone loss by phloridzin, an apple polyphenol, in ovariectomized rats under inflammation conditions.” Calcified Tissue International. Vol. 77, No. 5. 2005. Web https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00223-005-0060-5
2 Wariaghli G, Mounach A, Achemlal L, Benbaghdadi I, Aouragh A, Bezza A, El Maghraoui A. “Osteoporosis in chronic liver disease: a case-control study.” Rheumatology International, Vol. 30, No. 7. May 2010. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19636560
3 Viguet-Carrin, s., Garnero, P., and Delmas, P.D. “The Role of Collagen in Bone Strength.” Osteoporosis International. 2006. 17: 319-336. DOI 10.1007/s00198-005-2035-9. PDF. https://www.cof.org.cn/pdf/2006/5/The%20role%20of%20collagen%20in%20bone%20strength.pdf
4 Briggs Adam D M, Mizdrak Anja, Scarborough Peter. “A statin a day keeps the doctor away: comparative proverb assessment modelling study.” BMJ 2013; 347 :f7267. Web. https://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f7267
5 Michael J. Pencina, Ph.D., et al. “Application of New Cholesterol Guidelines to a Population-Based Sample.” N Engl J Med 2014; 370:1422-1431. April 10, 2014. Web. https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1315665
6 Annie L. Culver, et al. “Statin Use and Risk of Diabetes Mellitus in Postmenopausal Women in the Women's Health Initiative.” Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(2):144-152. Jan 23, 2012. Web. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1108676
7 Jessica Leuschen, MD., et al. “Association of Statin Use With Cataracts A Propensity Score–Matched Analysis.” JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013;131(11):1427-1434. Web. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/1739520
8 Mammo, Z., et al. “Oral Bisphosphonates and Risk of Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration.” Am J Opthalmol. 62. 7. (2016): 168. October 17, 2016. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27163238
9 Mayo Clinic Staff. “Statin side effects: Weigh the benefits and risks.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. April 26, 2016. Web. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/statin-side-effects/art-20046013
Comments on this article are closed.
Its almost impossible to get organic anything in Johannesburg. All our apples are grown in huge orchards in the Cape where I am sure they are regularly sprayed with insecticide.
If you really can’t find organic apples, soak them in a solution of bicarbonate of soda, 1 tablespoon to 1 litre of water, for 12 minutes. That’s how long it takes to remove the waxy layer that contains the pesticides and herbicides. Then rinse them well before you eat them. Happy munching!
This article was timely! Today I was informed my physician ordered a statin for me… Because I experienced side effects with a statin years ago and had to discontinue it, an apple a day is a much better solution! Thanks for the good news!
When it comes to my HDL and LDL levels, this is what I always keep in mind: Think “H” in HDL = Healthy Cholesterol/High (you want a High number). The “L” in LDL = Lethal Cholesterol/Low (you want a Low number). So you want a High HDL and Low LDL. H=Healthy/High L=Lethal, Low
I would like to congratulate you for the excellent explanation you gave with regards to the two levels of cholesterol HDL and LDL . Whenever I check mine, I always had to refer to my notes as I could never remember which was good cholesterol and which was bad. After reading your explanation, I can honestly say that now I can remember which is which, without having to refer to my notes.
Well done Sue and thank you .
You are most welcome! Hoped others could use this trick to remember which is which. I am always happy to see my high HDL and low LDL numbers! No statins for me!
Vivian, is it okay to cook the apples, such as apple sauce, baked, or does it destroy the benefits?
My mother ate apples almost every day. She actually had her own apple trees. She still got very bad osteoporosis, with many, many spinal fractures. She ate a very healthy diet and was very physically active.However, osteoporosis of the spine runs extremely strongly through my mother’s family, on both sides. Perhaps apples help those whose osteoporosis is not genetic.
Vivian, I printed out this article but it didn’t print as shown. Some of the paragraphs are not shown and it is somewhat disjointed. I’m having to type out the paragraphs that are missing and add them to the printed pages. Extremely disappointing!!! Why won’t it print as shown??
Ellie — On my computer (a Mac), I can change any webpage to something called “reader view.” It strips out all the advertisements and extraneous stuff, and gives you basically a PDF-like page — which is very easy to print with no gaps. Maybe you could try that. Not sure how it works on a PC. — Suzy
Statins also cause neuropathy in your feet and legs. Very uncomfortable and takes nearly a year to go away after you stop taking the statin
The sad part is that apples (except Golden Delicious) contain high amounts of salicylate so those of us ( and we are many!) who cannot tolerate salicylates can’t eat apples…but after reading the article I’ll try to find some organic golden delicious..but in a small country town the chances are slim!
Excellent explanation….. But the problem is availability of organic ?s! Lot of apples may not be organic in the market .so how to ensure?
The information on apples versus statins in regard to cardio-vascular health has come at the right time for me. I refused to take any more statins a couple of years ago because I was sick of the side effects. I am not fond of apples, but from now on they will be on my daily food intake. Here in Australia we have a great range of fruit including many varieties of apples, so it will not be difficult to find one that I like. Thanks again for reporting the latest research.
I grow my own organic apples with alternating years producing 1 or 2 apples and other years producing 1 or 2 tons. I dry my apples on a home dehydrator. My dried food cookbook just says the taste of dried apples in good—-but what about the nutritional values?