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Drinking green tea and eating apples could help fight cancer and heart disease

An apple a day really does keep the doctor away – as long as you drink plenty of green tea as well!

Scientists from the Institute of Food Research have shown that natural chemicals found in apples and green tea can protect the body against serious health problems such as heart disease and cancer. They 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.

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. The IFR 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," said the research team.

Dietary studies have shown that people who eat the largest amounts of fruit and vegetables have a reduced risk of developing chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.

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