Knowledge of the effects of processing on the antioxidant properties of fruits is limited. We investigated the processing of apple (A) and purple grape (PG) and their juices (AJ and PGJ) in hypercholesterolemic hamsters. Five groups of eight hamsters each were fed an atherogenic diet for 12 wk. They received daily by gavage either 7.14 mL/(kg x day) of mashed A or PG, or the same volume of AJ or PGJ, or water as control. Plasma cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol, liver superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase activities, and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances were efficiently reduced by the fruits and their juices compared with controls, whereas plasma antioxidant capacity was increased and aortic fatty streak area was decreased from 48 to 93%. For each of these parameters, the efficacy was PGJ > PG > AJ > A. The results show for the first time that long-term consumption of antioxidants supplied by apple and purple grape, especially phenolic compounds, prevents the development of atherosclerosis in hamsters, and that processing can have a major impact on the potential health benefits of a product. The underlying mechanism is related mainly to increased antioxidant status and improved serum lipid profile.