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Best Dried Fruit For Cholesterol

September 12, 2013 by Michael Greger M.D. in News with 34 Comments

When I saw there was a paper entitled “Daily Dried Apples Versus Daily Dried Plums: Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Postmenopausal Women,” the first thing I thought was well, was the study funded by the U.S. Apple Association or the International Prune Association? Turns out neither. Just our taxpayer dollars hard at work. Great! So what did they find?

One hundred and sixty older women were randomly assigned to a dried apple group or a dried plum group and followed for a year. A dozen dried apple rings a day or about 8 prunes. As you can see in my 3-min video Dried Apples, Dates, Figs or Prunes for Cholesterol?, within 3 months the apple group experienced a significant drop in cholesterol that stayed down throughout the rest of the study, but no cholesterol benefit in the prune group. Both dried fruit regimens lowered c-reactive protein levels about the same, though dried plums may cause a quicker decrease in inflammation, whereas dried apples may result in a greater decrease overall.

Prunes may not help our cholesterol, but they may improve the health of our skin—see Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep. That’s of course in addition to their customary regularity role, something I address in Prunes vs. Metamucil vs. Vegan Diet.

Twelve apple rings is equivalent to eating about 2 apples a day. They think that the cholesterol-lowering properties of apples may be due to their unique pectin fiber composition, which may increase fecal excretion of bile. Or there may be cholesterol-lowering phytonutrients unique to the apples. Either way, this supports the extraordinary findings detailed in my previous video Dried Apples Versus Cholesterol.

What about dried figs? The California Fig Board did not want to be left out. They put people on 14 figs a day (that’s a lot of figs!) for 5 weeks and… nothing. Daily consumption of figs did not appear to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Finally, what about dates? Another recent study tested 4 or 5 dates a day for a month and again nothing. The dates did tend to bring down triglyceride levels, though, which is surprising given their sugar content. Studies of the glycemic index of dates found them to have a surprisingly mild effect on blood sugar levels. In Dried Apples, Dates, Figs or Prunes for Cholesterol? I show graphs comparing the blood sugar effects of straight sugar water versus that same amount of sugar in date form. More on the sugar content of dates in Are Dates Good For You?, a recipe in Healthy Pumpkin Pie, and my favorite source for dates here (the season just started!).

Dates beat out other common fruits in terms of containing more vitamins and minerals. They’ve even been touted as the “richest source of dietary minerals,” but because they’re dried they have about 5 times more calories than fresh fruits. Thus, in terms of nutrient density, they’re really quite comparable to other fruits. Apples, however, clearly have others beat when it comes to lowering cholesterol.

More on dried fruit can be found in:

Those with asthma may want to choose dried fruits without the preservative sulfur dioxide.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death and More Than an Apple a Day.

Image credit: storebukkebruse / Flickr

 

Eggs, Cigarettes, and Atherosclerosis

September 10, 2013 by Michael Greger M.D. in News with 29 Comments

study in the journal Atherosclerosis found that eating just 3 eggs or more a week was associated with a significant increase in artery-clogging plaque buildup in people’s carotid arteries going to their brain, a strong predictor of stroke, heart attack, and death.  If you check out my 3-min video Eggs vs. Cigarettes in Atherosclerosis you’ll see they found an exponential increase in arterial plaque buildup for smokers and egg-eaters. Those that ate the most eggs had as much as two-thirds the risk of those that smoked the most, the equivalent of a pack-a-day habit for 40 years or more.

This did not go over easy with the egg industry.

As revealed in a series of internal memos about this group of researchers retrieved through the Freedom of Information Act, the American Egg Board discussed the “wisdom of making industry responses when the public knows there is a vested interest…” So the Executive Director of the Egg Board’s “Egg Nutrition Center” proposed they contact “some of our ‘friends’ in the science community” to have an “objective, external source author the response.”

“If you do so,” the Egg Board wrote to one of their “friends” at Yale, “we’ll certainly compensate you…” But the prominent Yale physician refused to “participate in an overtly antagonistic letter” given his friendship with one of the co-authors of the eggs and atherosclerosis review.

If you can’t find someone with credentials to counter the science, why not just make one up? Check out Eggs vs. Cigarettes in Atherosclerosis to see this story’s bizarre twist involving an attempt to discredit the egg & smoking study with a hacked email account.

This is the same prestigious research team that wrote the landmark review upon which I based my videos Egg Cholesterol in the Diet and Avoiding Cholesterol Is a No Brainer.

More on eggs in:

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death and More Than an Apple a Day

Image credit: REL Waldman / Flickr

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