A team of scientists from the UK’s Institute of Food Research have shown that natural chemicals found in the two foods can protect the body against serious health problems such as heart disease and cancer.
"An apple a day and a cup of green tea, keeps heart disease away"
An apple a day really does keep the doctor away, as long as you’re drinking plenty of green tea, too.
Dr Paul Kroon and his associates found that the polyphenols in apples and green tea inhibit a protein called VEGF, which stimulates a process called atherosclerosis, in which the arteries become clogged up by fatty substances, potentially leading to heart attacks and strokes.
VEGF is also target for some anti-cancer drugs, as it causes blood vessels to form in a process known as angiogenesis, which has a key role in the progression of cancer.
Using cells derived from human blood vessels, the researchers found that low concentrations of the polyphenols epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) from green tea and procyanidin from apples stopped the VEGF’s signalling function.
Previous studies have linked high consumption of foods containing polyphenols to health benefits, as well as suggesting that polyphenols inhibit VEFS. But the Institute claims the new study “provides the first evidence that polyphenols can directly interact with VEGF to block its signals”.
The study also found that through the activation of an enzyme, the polyphenols increased the amount of nitric oxide in the blood, which can help blood vessels widen and prevent damage occurring.
“This was unexpected, as VEGF itself stimulates nitric oxide, and anti-cancer drugs that block VEGF also reduce nitric oxide, leading to an increased risk of hypertension in some users," the Institute said on its website.
Last month, a study found that an apple a day did not cut down visits to doctors, but that people who eat a daily apple are 27 per cent less likely to need to visit the pharmacist for drugs.
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