May 3/Washington/Hindustan Times-- Eating an apple a day or drinking a glass of apple juice can help keep early atherosclerosis at bay, says a new study.

The study by European researchers led by Kelly Decorde from the Universite Montpelier in France found that apple and apple juice have similar cardiovascular protective properties as purple grapes and grape juice.

The boffins used a variety of established analytical techniques to evaluate aortic plaque to determine the effectiveness in decreasing plaque that is associated with atherosclerosis.

A study on hamsters was then conducted, based on which the researchers concluded that apples and apple juice are in the same health league as grapes.

They also noted that processing apples into juice has the potential to increase the bioavailability of the naturally-occurring compounds and antioxidants found in the whole fruit.

"This study demonstrates that processing apples and purple grapes into juice modifies the protective effect of their phenolics against diet induced oxidative stress and early atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic hamsters," the researchers stated.

"These results show for the first time that long-term consumption of antioxidants supplied by apples and purple grapes, especially phenolic compounds, prevents the development of atherosclerosis in hamsters, and that the processing can have a major impact on the potential health effects of a product," they added.

The study was published in the April 2008 issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

From the May 12, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash