New Study Adds to Growing Link Between Apples, Lung Health
McLean, Va. – New research suggests that eating that proverbial apple a day can reduce the risk of developing asthma.

Researchers from London’s King’s College and the University of Southampton have reported that people who ate at least two apples per week had a 22-32 percent lower risk of developing asthma than people who ate fewer apples.  Their conclusions were based on population-based case-control study of 1,471 adults in the United Kingdom that sought to
examine how dietary antioxidants might affect asthma risk and severity.

“We found that asthma was less common in adults who consumed more apples,” said lead researcher Seif O. Shaheen, M.D.  Exactly how apples might reduce asthma risk is not yet known. 

Researchers concluded that more research is needed to better understand how apples or apple nutrients might influence lung health.  They believe that flavonoids found in apples might reduce asthma inflammation through an antioxidant, antiallergenic or anti-inflammatory response.   

Their findings were reported in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (volume 164, number 10, November 2001, 1823-1828).

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“This research adds to the growing body of science demonstrating that eating apples may improve health, including lung and heart health,” said Dr. Dianne Hyson, a registered dietitian and nutrition researcher with the University of California-Davis Medical Center. 

Other recent studies have also suggested that we might breathe easier – literally – by eating apples or drinking apple juice, says Julia Daly, nutrition communications specialist with the U.S. Apple Association.  In May 2001, researchers at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom reported that apple eaters had better lung function and lower risk of respiratory disease such as asthma than non-apple eaters.  At the same time, researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands reported that smokers eating moderate amounts of fruits and vegetables – and particularly apples – cut their risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a common lung ailment among smokers, nearly in half. 

In January 2000, researchers at London’s St. George’s Hospital also documented a possible link between apples and lung function. Researchers at the University of Hawaii and Finland’s National Public Health Institute both linked apple consumption with a reduced risk of lung cancer in separate studies published last year and in 1997, respectively. 

All of these studies point to apples’ high flavonoid content as the potential health benefactor.