Researchers have found post-menopausal women -- a group at high risk of heart attack and stroke -- who ate two apples a day had 25 percent lower cholesterol.
A team of researchers at Florida State University said the study involved 160 women who had been through the menopause. Half ate 75 grams a day of dried apple -- the equivalent of two medium-sized fresh apples -- and the other half were told to eat the same quantity of prunes.
Each volunteer underwent blood tests every three months for one year, the researchers said.
The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, showed that after three months total cholesterol levels in the group that ate apples dropped by 9 percent and low-density lipoprotein, the "bad," cholesterol, dropped by 16 percent.
Levels were even lower after six months, with total cholesterol down 13 percent and low-density lipoprotein levels dropped by 24 percent, the study said.
The prunes lowered cholesterol levels slightly but not to the same extent as the dried apple.