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High blood pressure and high cholesterol are frequently discovered to be working in tandem. High cholesterol causes inflammation and the production of a hormone that causes blood vessels to tighten, resulting in elevated blood pressure. These diseases can substantially increase the risk of heart diseases like heart attack and stroke.
It is essential to reverse the effects of these two debilitating problems. Studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables can help keep them under control. Therefore, eliminating unhealthy foods like junk foods and adding healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy, and vegetables can help bring your cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control. Gradually, it will alleviate your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Apples, in particular, can work towards alleviating the chances of developing these health problems.
Have you heard the adage 'an apple a day keeps a doctor away?' Apples offer numerous health benefits, including reduced risk of stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancers and soluble fibre content that may promote weight loss (obesity), improved gut health. Ms Pavithra N Raj, Chief Dietician, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur, "fresh apples are the best because they have the greatest amount of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and the least amount of sugar. Apples are full of polyphenols and potassium."
Here's how apples are healthy to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check and mitigate the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
High blood pressure or hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer as it slowly creeps in the system and attacks the body. According to a 2020 study published in the Critical Review in Food Science and Nutrition, consuming 100 to 150 grams of whole apples was linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and blood pressure. It was a small study that included 30 healthy men and women between the ages of 33 and 70 years old.
After a thorough analysis, the researchers found that consuming 120 grams of apple flesh and 80 grams of apple peel decreased systolic blood pressure by 3.3 mm Hg. Systolic blood pressure is when the heart contracts, forcing blood through the arteries. Normal systolic pressure ranges between 90- and 120-mm Hg. The findings also suggest that eating at least one whole apple per day is related to a 14 per cent decrease in all-cause mortality risk.
To further understand the link on how apples may benefit your blood pressure, we asked Ms Pavithra N Raj about it. "One main reason linked with apple intake and lower blood pressure is its potassium content, potassium is helpful in controlling blood pressure, and apples are a good source of potassium."
"Intake of potassium-rich foods lowers the sodium contact in the body this helps reduce the blood pressure. Foods that are rich in potassium are important in managing high blood pressure because potassium lowers the effects of sodium. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine. Potassium also helps ease tension in your blood vessel walls, and relaxes the walls of the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and protecting against muscle cramping," explained Ms Raj.
The normal cholesterol levels should be 5mmol/L or less for a healthy heart. When the level of LDL "bad" cholesterol in your body is higher than usual, it can lead to a buildup in your artery walls and trigger a release of inflammatory substances that can increase the risk of a heart attack. We talked to Sr. Clinical Nutritionist, Priyanka Agarwal of Max Multispeciality Centre Noida on how apples benefit those with high cholesterol levels and keep them in check.
Explaining the benefits of apples for cholesterol patients, Ms Agarwal said, "apples are rich in pectin, a soluble fibre, which blocks cholesterol absorption in the gut and encourages the body to use, rather than store, the waxy stuff. Apple peels are also packed with polyphenols antioxidants that prevent cellular damage from free radicals."
"According to a research paper published in the journal, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming up to two to three medium-sized apples resulted in a decrease in total cholesterol levels between 5% and 13% LDL cholesterol levels were lowered by at least 7% in some studies, and HDL (good cholesterol) levels were increased by up to 12%. Studies found that the ingredients in apples most likely contributing to the improved cholesterol levels were pectin and polyphenols," she added.
However, Priyanka Agarwal also warned people that they should not rely completely on apples to control their cholesterol levels. There are other factors to keep in mind, along with including apples in your diet. "You may need to limit to intake of saturated fats also. It is important to follow a well-balanced diet. A patient suffering from diabetes, hyperglycemia cannot consume 2-3 apples/day. So, always follow professional advice."
Apples contain essential nutrients that contribute to healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Since high blood pressure and high cholesterol operate in conjunction with one another, it is important to keep them in control to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. When left untreated, high levels of cholesterol and blood pressure can set the stage for serious heart complications, making them risk factors for premature death.
However, eating apples alone cannot be a saviour. You need to incorporate healthy habits in your life, like reducing the intake of saturated fats, eating a balanced diet, and exercise. Patients suffering from medical conditions like diabetes, kidney diseases, etc. should consult their doctor before making any dietary changes.
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