Dried Apples, Dates, Figs, or Prunes for Cholesterol?

Dried Apples, Dates, Figs, or Prunes for Cholesterol?
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A comparison of the cholesterol-lowering potential of four dried fruits—apples, dates, figs, and plums.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Daily dried apples versus daily dried plums: “Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Postmenopausal Women.” First thing I thought was, well, was this study funded by the U.S. Apple Association, or the International Prune Association? I can bet what the results would be; but, it turns out, neither; just our taxpayer dollars, hard at work—great!

So, what’d they find? 160 older women, 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 eight prunes. And, within three months, a significant drop in cholesterol in the apple, but not prune, group, which stayed down through the rest of the study. In terms of inflammation, “both dried fruit regimens lower [C-reactive protein] levels”—about the same, though perhaps prunes may cause “a quicker decrease” in inflammation, whereas dried apples may result in “a greater decrease overall.”

Twelve apple rings is equivalent to eating about two apples a day. They think that “the cholesterol-lowering properties of apple[s] may be due to its unique pectin fiber composition,” which may “increase fecal excretion of bile.” Though, the apple phytonutrients themselves—even without the fiber—appear to lower cholesterol on their own.

What about dried figs? The California Fig Board did not want to be left out— sponsors of both Fig Fest, and Fig Feast, as well this recent study. Fourteen figs a day—that’s a lot of figs—for five weeks and…nothing. Daily consumption of figs did not reduce bad cholesterol.

And, finally, what about dates? Four or five dates a day, for a month. And, again, nothing—though, if anything, they did tend to bring down triglyceride levels a bit, which is surprising, given the sugar content in dates. A recent study on the glycemic index of dates found them surprisingly low. The open circles are what straight sugar water does to your blood sugar; and, here’s that same amount of sugar, but in date form.

Dates beat out other common fruits in terms of containing more vitamins, and more minerals. In fact, touted as the “richest source of dietary minerals.” But, because they’re dried, they have about five times more calories than fresh fruits, you know, ounce per ounce.

And so, in terms of nutrient density, they’re really quite comparable to these other fruits—though apples clearly have them beat when it comes to lowering cholesterol.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Merzperson via Wikimedia; and smitemeInhabitat, and arsheffield via flickr

 

 

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Daily dried apples versus daily dried plums: “Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Postmenopausal Women.” First thing I thought was, well, was this study funded by the U.S. Apple Association, or the International Prune Association? I can bet what the results would be; but, it turns out, neither; just our taxpayer dollars, hard at work—great!

So, what’d they find? 160 older women, 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 eight prunes. And, within three months, a significant drop in cholesterol in the apple, but not prune, group, which stayed down through the rest of the study. In terms of inflammation, “both dried fruit regimens lower [C-reactive protein] levels”—about the same, though perhaps prunes may cause “a quicker decrease” in inflammation, whereas dried apples may result in “a greater decrease overall.”

Twelve apple rings is equivalent to eating about two apples a day. They think that “the cholesterol-lowering properties of apple[s] may be due to its unique pectin fiber composition,” which may “increase fecal excretion of bile.” Though, the apple phytonutrients themselves—even without the fiber—appear to lower cholesterol on their own.

What about dried figs? The California Fig Board did not want to be left out— sponsors of both Fig Fest, and Fig Feast, as well this recent study. Fourteen figs a day—that’s a lot of figs—for five weeks and…nothing. Daily consumption of figs did not reduce bad cholesterol.

And, finally, what about dates? Four or five dates a day, for a month. And, again, nothing—though, if anything, they did tend to bring down triglyceride levels a bit, which is surprising, given the sugar content in dates. A recent study on the glycemic index of dates found them surprisingly low. The open circles are what straight sugar water does to your blood sugar; and, here’s that same amount of sugar, but in date form.

Dates beat out other common fruits in terms of containing more vitamins, and more minerals. In fact, touted as the “richest source of dietary minerals.” But, because they’re dried, they have about five times more calories than fresh fruits, you know, ounce per ounce.

And so, in terms of nutrient density, they’re really quite comparable to these other fruits—though apples clearly have them beat when it comes to lowering cholesterol.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Merzperson via Wikimedia; and smitemeInhabitat, and arsheffield via flickr

 

 

Nota del Doctor

This supports the extraordinary findings detailed in Dried Apples vs. Cholesterol. More on dried fruit can be found in Better Than Goji BerriesAmla Versus Diabetes; and To Snack or Not to Snack? Those with asthma may want to choose dried fruits without the preservative sulfur dioxide—see my Ask the Doctor comment: Sulfite sensitivity from sulphur dioxide in dried fruits?

Though variety is important (see Apples & Oranges: Dietary Diversity), apples are an excellent choice. See also Apples & Breast Cancer, and The Healthiest Apple.

More on the sugar content of dates in Are Dates Good For You? Also, I’ve got a great date recipe in Healthy Pumpkin Pie, and my favorite date source is noted in my Ask the Doctor comment: What’s the best source of those dates you like?

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’m going to address in my next video, Prunes vs. Metamucil vs. Vegan Diet.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Best Dried Fruit For Cholesterol, and Raisins vs. Energy Gels for Athletic Performance.

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