Eating two apples a day helps to reduce cholesterol and fight heart disease, according to research.
Scientists said the modest dietary requirement had shown a “significant effect” on the “markers of heart health”.
“It seems the old adage of an apple day was nearly right,” said Professor Julie Lovegrove, director of the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition at the University of Reading.
Apples are rich in fibre and compounds called polyphenols, which help to reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol – also known as “bad cholesterol”.
A team led by academics from Reading, in collaboration with the Fondazione Edmund Mach Institute, used Renetta Canada apples grown in Trentino in the far north of Italy.
They are rich in a type of polyphenol compound called proanthocyanidins.
Apple juice was used as a comparison.
While the drink had similar amounts of calories and sugar, the apples had significantly higher proportions of fibre – 8.5g compared to 0.5g – while total polyphenol content was 990mg rather than 2.5mg.
“Two whole apples, rather than a sugar and calorie matched apple juice drink, has had a significant effect on markers of heart health of participants,” said Prof Lovegrove.
Dr Thanasis Koutsos, from the University of Reading’s food and nutritional sciences department, said: “We don’t yet know whether the fibre that is found in the apple or the polyphenol which is in significantly greater concentration in the apples we used is responsible for the results.
“Either way, the clear winner here is the whole food.”