Thursday, April 10, 2008

Prevention - Apples and The Metabolic Syndrome

Remember Johnny Appleseed
All ye who love the apple
He served his kind by word and deed.


Ordinarily, as a pathologist, I don’t speak of clinical matters. Clinical medicine is not my core competence But apples are in exception.

A recent study indicates a daily diet of apples or its byproducts – apple sauce and apple juice - may prevent or ease the metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome affects as many as 25% of adult Americans. It is defined as having three or more of these signs,

• Fasting hyperglycemia — diabetes mellitus type 2 or impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, or insulin resistance;
• Hypertension;
• Central obesity(also known as pot or beer belly), with fat deposits around the waist;
• Decreased HDL cholesterol;
• Elevated triglycerides

The study, presented at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting this week, analyzed adult food consumption data collected in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the government’s largest food consumption and health database.

Dr. Victor Fulgoni, PhD, a nutrition expert and senior Vice President of Nutrition Impact, LLC,. studied consumption of apples and apple products, nutrient intake, and various measures related to metabolic syndrome. When compared to non-apple eaters, adult apple product consumers had 27% less odds of being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

Adults who eat apples and apple products have smaller waistlines , less abdominal fat, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. They have 30% less elevated diastolic blood pressures, 36% decreased elevated systolic blood pressure, and a 21% smaller waist circumferences – all precursors of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.

Furthermore, apple eaters’ diets are healthier than apple eaters – they take in more fruit and key nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and potassium. Apple aficionados also eat less total fat, saturated fat, discretionary fat and sugars.

To talk of the metabolic syndrome and the role of apples in preventing or easing it is a handy way of expressing alarm about that precursor triad – high blood sugar, hypertension, and obesity – occurring alone or in clusters to produce the three most devastating killer diseases in America - diabetes, heart disease, and chronic heart failure. Together these killer diseases are America’s leading cause of death and disability and account for more than 50% of health costs. If something as simple as an apple, or two or three a day, can slow the death toll, apples are worth talking about.



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