Apple extract may help control cholesterol levels in healthy people

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

 Annurca is the only apple cultivar native to Southern Italy, and is listed as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) product by the European Union.  Image © Getty Images / eZeePics Studio
Annurca is the only apple cultivar native to Southern Italy, and is listed as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) product by the European Union. Image © Getty Images / eZeePics Studio
Polyphenolic extracts from Italian Annurca apples may increase the excretion of cholesterol by an impressive 35% in healthy people, according to a new study.

Data published in the journal PharmaNutrition​indicated that a novel nutraceutical product (the researchers refer to it as AMD), formulated with Annurca apple polyphenolic extracts, was able to decrease the solubility and absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, and may offer a natural solution to cholesterol management and cardiovascular support.

“AMD could be expected to better vehicle dimeric procyanidins to the micelle targets, thanks to its polar microencapsulated formulation,” ​wrote the researchers, led by Gian Carlo Tenore from University of Naples Federico II.

“This product may be regarded as a powerful tool to decrease cholesterol solubility at the duodenal tract and, thus, its intestinal bioavailability. Therefore, the present work proposes AMD as an effective remedy to lower cholesterol absorption in healthy subjects.”

Cholesterol reduction

There are already established ingredients for cholesterol management for product formulators, with the list dominated by sterols and stanols. Numerous clinical trials in controlled settings have reported that daily consumption of 1.5 to 3 grams of phyto-sterols/-stanols from foods can reduce total cholesterol levels by eight to 17%, representing a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The US FDA approved health claim states that 1.3 grams of plant sterols per day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. (For plant stanols, the daily dose increases to 3.4 grams)

The new study suggests that an Annurca apple extract microencapsulated in maltodextrins may potentially offer another option to formulators. The apple-based ingredient was produced by Turin-based MB-Med Company.

Study details

Heart health © Getty Images RomoloTavani
© Getty Images / RomoloTavani

Using an in vitro​ system, the researchers found that the apple extract decreased cholesterol micellar solubility by 86%. They followed this with a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study with 50 healthy men and women assigned to 10 days of a high-cholesterol diet with or without the Annurca apple-derived extract. This was followed by a seven-day “washout”​ period before crossing over to the other group.

Cholesterol excretion in the feces significantly increased by about 35% during the apple extract supplementation period, compared with placebo.

Commenting on the potential bioactives in the apple ingredient, the researchers stated that NMR data indicated that the dimeric procyanidins are able to interact with bile acid micelles via phosphatidylcholine (PC) and thereby precipitate cholesterol.

“Our clinical data demonstrated that AMD was able to increase fecal cholesterol excretion when healthy subjects took high-cholesterol diet,”​ they wrote. “This is the first report of the effects of an apple polyphenolic extract on the intestinal cholesterol absorption.”

Source: PharmaNutrition
September 2018, Volume 6, Issue 3, Pages 85-94, doi: 10.1016/j.phanu.2018.05.001
“A nutraceutical formulation based on Annurca apple polyphenolic extract is effective on intestinal cholesterol absorption: A randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover study”
Authors: G.C. Tenore et al.

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