Pharma Tips

Apple : Pharmacognosy & Medicinal Uses

By: Pharma Tips | Views: 2911 | Date: 03-Oct-2013

Apples are a crisp, white-fleshed fruit with a red, yellow or green skin. The apple is actually a member of the Rose family, which may seem strange until we remember that roses make rose hips, which are fruits similar to the apple. Apples have a moderately sweet, refreshing flavor and a tartness that is present to greater or lesser degree depending on the variety. For example, Golden and Red Delicious apples are mild and sweet, while Pippins and Granny Smith apples are notably brisk and tart. Tart apples, w

Apple : History, Pharmacognosy, Nuritional Value, Medicinal Uses, Health Benefits 


Description

Apples are a crisp, white-fleshed fruit with a red, yellow or green skin. The apple is actually a member of the Rose family, which may seem strange until we remember that roses make rose hips, which are fruits similar to the apple.

Apples have a moderately sweet, refreshing flavor and a tartness that is present to greater or lesser degree depending on the variety. For example, Golden and Red Delicious apples are mild and sweet, while Pippins and Granny Smith apples are notably brisk and tart. Tart apples, which best retain their texture during cooking, are often preferred for cooked desserts like apple pie, while Delicious apples and other sweeter varieties like Braeburn and Fuji apples are usually eaten raw.

History

The apple tree, which originally came from Eastern Europe and southwestern Asia, has spread to most temperate regions of the world. Over the centuries, many hybrids and cultivars have been developed, giving us the 7,000 varieties in the market today.

Apples have long been associated with the biblical story of Adam and Eve, although there is actually no mention that, in fact, the fruit in question was actually an apple. In Norse mythology, apples were given a more positive persona: a magic apple was said to keep people young forever. Apples' most recent appearance in history occurred in the 1800s in the U.S., when Johnny Appleseed—a real person named John Chapman—walked barefoot across an area of 100,000 square miles, planting apple trees that provided food and a livelihood for generations of settlers.

 

What's New and Beneficial About Apples

  • The phytonutrients in apples can help you regulate your blood sugar. Recent research has shown that apple polyphenols can help prevent spikes in blood sugar through a variety of mechanisms. Flavonoids like quercetin found in apples can inhibit enzymes like alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. Since these enzymes are involved in the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, your blood sugar has fewer simple sugars to deal with when these enzymes are inhibited. In addition, the polyphenols in apple have been shown to lessen absorption of glucose from the digestive tract; to stimulate the beta cells of the pancreas to secrete insulin; and to increase uptake of glucose from the blood via stimulation of insulin receptors. All of these mechanisms triggered by apple polyphenols can make it easier for you to regulate your blood sugar.
  • Even though apple is not an excellent source of dietary fiber (it ranks as a "good" source in our WHFoods Rating System), the fiber found in apple may combine with other apple nutrients to provide you with the kind of health benefits you would ordinarily only associate with much higher amounts of dietary fiber. These health benefits are particularly important in prevention of heart disease through healthy regulation of blood fat levels. Recent research has shown that intake of apples in their whole food form can significantly lower many of our blood fats. The fat-lowering effects of apple have traditionally been associated with its soluble fiber content, and in particular, with its fat-soluble fiber called pectin. What we now know, however, is that whole apples only contain approximately 2-3 grams of fiber per 3.5 ounces, and that pectin accounts for less than 50% of this total fiber. Nevertheless, this relatively modest amount of pectin found in whole apples has now been shown to interact with other apple phytonutrients to give us the kind of blood fat lowering effects that would typically be associated with much higher amounts of soluble fiber intake. In recent comparisons with laboratory animals, the blood fat lowering effects of whole apple were shown to be greatly reduced when whole apples were eliminated from the diet and replaced by pectin alone. In summary, it's not fiber alone that explains the cardiovascular benefits of apple, but the interaction of fiber with other phytonutrients in this wonderful fruit. If you want the full cardiovascular benefits of apples, it's the whole food form that you'll want to choose. Only this form can provide you with those unique fiber-plus-phytonutrient combinations.
  • The whole food form of apples is also important if you want full satisfaction from eating them. Researchers have recently compared intake of whole apples to intake of applesauce and apple juice, only to discover that people report less hunger (and better satiety, or food satisfaction) after eating whole apples than after eating applesauce or drinking apple juice. But especially interesting was an additional finding about calorie intake following apple consumption. When healthy adults consumed one medium-sized apple approximately 15 minutes before a meal, their caloric intake at that meal decreased by an average of 15%. Since meals in this study averaged 1,240 calories, a reduction of 15% meant a reduction of 186 calories, or about 60 more calories than contained in a medium apple. For these researchers, "getting ahead" in calories with a net reduction of 60 calories was a welcomed outcome of the study, and an extra benefit to their study's primary conclusion—the importance of whole apples (versus other more processed apple forms) in helping us manage our hunger and feeling more satisfied with our food.
  • Scientists have recently shown that important health benefits of apples may stem from their impact on bacteria in the digestive tract. In studies on laboratory animals, intake of apples is now known to significantly alter amounts of two bacteria (Clostridiales and Bacteriodes) in the large intestine. As a result of these bacterial changes, metabolism in the large intestine is also changed, and many of these changes appear to provide health benefits. For example, due to bacterial changes in the large intestine, there appears to be more fuel available to the large intestine cells (in the form of butyric acid) after apple is consumed. We expect to see future studies confirming these results in humans, and we are excited to think about potential health benefits of apple that will be related to its impact on bacterial balance in our digestive tract.

Apples belong to the Rose family of plants and are joined in that family by a wide range of very popular foods, including apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, pears, raspberries, and almonds. Foods in the Rose family are simply too diverse in their nutrient value to allow for any one single recommendation about the number of servings that we should consume from this family on a weekly basis. However, when focusing specifically on apples, several anti-cancer studies show daily intake of this fruit to provide better anti-cancer benefits than lesser amounts. So there may be some truth to that old phrase, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!" Still, we don't recommend that everyone eat one apple on a daily basis, given the wide variety of available fruits and the nutritional uniqueness of each type. But we do recommend that everyone eat at least 2-3 whole fresh fruits per day, or the equivalent of 2-3 cups' worth of fresh fruit. Within this framework, if apples are a type of fruit that you strongly prefer, there would be nothing wrong with consuming one on a daily basis, and you may get some special health benefits by doing so.

Nutrients in
Apple
1.00 small (182.00 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value

 fiber17.4%

 vitamin C13.9%

Calories (94)5%


This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Apples provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Apples can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Apples, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

    How to Select and Store

    Look for firm fruits with rich coloring. Yellow and green apples with a slight blush are best. Your preference for a sweeter or more tart fruit and whether you plan to enjoy your apples raw or cooked will guide your choice of variety. Just remember that Red and Golden Delicious are among the sweetest apples. Braeburn and Fuji apples are slightly tart, and Gravenstein, Pippin, and Granny Smith apples are the most tart, but retain their texture best during cooking.

    In the northern hemisphere, apple season begins at the end of summer and lasts until early winter. Apples available at other times have been in cold storage or are imported from the southern hemisphere.

    Whole apples are a much better nutritional choice than apple juice. Not only are whole apples richer in dietary fiber, but the current processes of juicing seem to drastically reduce the polyphenolic phytonutrient concentrations originally found in the whole fruit.

    Apples can be stored for relatively long (3-4 months) periods of time. Cold storage at low refrigerator temperatures (35-40F/2-4C) is able to help minimize loss of nutrients. In addition, it's helpful to maintain some moisture in the cold storage area, for example, by inclusion of damp cheesecloth in the crisper bin of a refrigerator. Over a period of time involving months, there is loss of total polyphenols from apples, including both flavonoid and non-flavonoid polyphenols. However, valuable amounts of polyphenols (and all other nutrients) remain. In some food traditions, cold storage of apples over the winter months is still counted on as a key part of dietary nourishment from fruits.

    You've no doubt heard the saying, "one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch." Well, research studies agree. An apple that has been bruised from being dropped (or that has been damaged in some other way) will start to release unusual amounts of ethylene gas. This ethylene gas can pose a risk to other apples that have not been damaged and greatly decrease their shelf life. For this reason, it's important to handle apples with tender loving care, and also to remove any damaged apples from groups of apples stored in bulk.

    Tips for Preparing and Cooking

    Tips for Preparing Apples

    The skin of the apple is unusually rich in nutrients, and even if the recipe you've chosen requires peeled apples, consider leaving the skins on to receive the unique benefits found in the skins. Ideally, of course, choose organic apples to avoid problems related to pesticide residues and other contaminants on the skins. If you cannot obtain organic apples, and you are willing to accept some level of risk related to consumption of residues on the apple skins, we believe that it can still be a good trade-off between nutrients and contaminants if you leave the skin of the apple intact and eat the apple unpeeled. Just be sure to thoroughly rinse the entire apple under a stream of pure water while gently scrubbing the skin with a natural bristle brush for 10-15 seconds.

    To prevent browning when slicing apples for a recipe, simply put the slices in a bowl of cold water to which a spoonful of lemon juice has been addedFor use in future recipes, sliced apples freeze well in plastic bags or containers.

    There's an important loss of nutrients that usually occurs when apples are processed into applesauce, and an even greater loss when they are processed into juice. Some types of processing are easier on nutrients than others, but in general, apple sauces require boiling of apples and apple juices require some extraction of pulp. In all cases, the more apple that can be retained, the better the resulting nourishment. Processing can take a special toll on polyphenols. We've seen recent studies where only 10% of the flavonols and 3% of the catechins from the original apples remained present in the processed apple juice, Even chlorogenic acid (one of the more stable polyphenols in apples) tends to be decreased by at least 50% during the processing of whole apples into juice.

    Obviously, there are exceptions to these generalized findings. For example, it is possible to put whole apples into a powerful blender and consume the resulting juice. In this case, very little if any of the nutrients are lost. However, this type of blending is not used in the commercial production of apple juice. Commercial apple juices are typically either "clear" or "cloudy." Clear apple juices have the vast majority of the apple pomace (pulpy apple solids) removed. Cloudy apple juices typically retain some of these pulpy solids because even though the pulpy solids have been removed from the juice through pressing and filtering, they are added back in at some designated level. When purchasing apple juice, always choose cloudy juices if possible.

    How to Enjoy

    A few quick serving ideas

    • Add diced apples to fruit or green salads.
    • Braise a chopped apple with red cabbage.
    • Looking for an alternative to sweet desserts? Sliced apples (either alone or with other fruits) and cheese are a European favorite.
  • Individual Concerns

    Apples and Pesticide Residues

    Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains pesticide residues, and with the exception of organic foods, so do the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver's ability to process other toxins, the cells' ability to produce energy, and the nerves' ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group's 2013 report "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides," conventionally grown apples are among the top 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of apples unless they are grown organically.

    If you do purchase non-organic apples, you may want to ask your grocer about the kind of wax used to protect the apple's surface during storage or shipping. Carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm tree), beeswax, and shellac (from the lac beetle) are preferable to petroleum-based waxes, which contain solvent residues or wood resins.

    Nutritional Profile

    Apple polyphenols are standout nutrients in this widely loved fruit. These polyphenols include flavonols (especially quercetin, but also kaempferol and myricetin), catechins (especially epicatechin), anthocyanins (if the apples are red-skinned), chlorogenic acid, phloridizin, and several dozen more health-supportive polyphenol nutrients. Apple is a good source of fiber, including the soluble fiber pectin, and it's also a good source of vitamin C. Apple nutrients are disproportionately present in the skin, which is a particularly valuable part of the fruit with respect to its nutrient content.

    For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Apples.

    In-Depth Nutritional Profile

    In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Apples is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

    Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

    In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.

    Apple
    1.00 small
    182.00 grams
    94.64 calories
    NutrientAmountDV
    (%)
    Nutrient
    Density
    World's Healthiest
    Foods Rating
    fiber4.37 g17.53.3good
    vitamin C8.37 mg13.92.7good
    World's Healthiest
    Foods Rating
    Rule
    excellentDV>=75% OR
    Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
    very goodDV>=50% OR
    Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
    goodDV>=25% OR
    Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%
  •  

     

    Nutritional Value:

    One medium size apple contains 0.47 grams of protein, 95 calories, and 4.4 grams of dietary fiber.

     Minerals in apple

     Potassium – 195 mg

    Calcium – 11 mg

    Phosphorus – 20 mg

    Magnesium – 9 mg

    Manganese – 0.064 mg

    Iron – 0.22 mg

    Sodium – 2 mg

    Copper – 0.049 mg

    Zinc – 0.07 mg

     Vitamins in apple

     Vitamin A – 98 IU

    Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.031 mg

    Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.047 mg

    Niacin – 0.166 mg

    Folate – 5 mcg

    Pantothenic Acid – 0.111 mg

    Vitamin B6 – 0.075 mg

    Vitamin C – 8.4 mg 

    Vitamin E – 0.33 mg

    Vitamin K – 4 mcg

     

     

    Health Benefits of Apple:

     

     

    Apple's Amazing Polyphenols

     

    In the past five years, no area of apple research has been more dynamic than the area of apple polyphenols. The balance of these phytonutrients in apples is far more unique than many researchers previously suspected. In terms of flavonols, quercetin is the primary phytonutrient found in apples, and it's far more concentrated in the skin than in the pulp. Kaempferol and myricetin are also important apple flavonols. Chlorogenic acid is apple's primary phenolic acid, and it's found throughout the pulp and also in the skin. If apples are red, it's because of their anthocyanins, which are largely restricted to the skin. When an apple is more uniformly red in color, or when its red color is deeper in hue, it's because there are more anthocyanins. In terms of catechin polyphenols, epicatechin is the primary nutrient found in apples. The flavonoid phloridzin accounts for 98% of the flavonoids found in the apple seeds. The total polyphenol contents of apples range from about 1-7 grams/kilogram of fresh pulp, but this ratio gets much higher in the skin, underscoring the special value of apple skins for deriving optimal polyphenol benefits from this fruit. In fact, in animal studies, there is a very commonly used standardized apple extract called standardized apple peel polyphenol extract, or APPE.

    You might wonder why apples end up with such an amazing array of polyphenols. In this context, it's fascinating to see that recent research studies show polyphenols to be the favorite mechanism used by apples to protect themselves from UV-B radiation. Cells in the skin of apple that conduct photosynthesis are especially sensitive to UV-B light from the sun. Many of the polyphenols in the skin of apples can actually absorb UV-B light, and thereby prevent UV-B from damaging the photosynthetic cells in the apple skin. Polyphenols, then, are like the apple's natural sunscreen.

    It is also interesting to note that the amazing polyphenol content of apples is related to their easy browning when sliced open or bruised. Inside the cells of apple skin and pulp are enzymes called polyphenol oxidases, or PPOs. When the cells of the apple are sliced through or physically damaged when an apple is dropped, the PPOs start oxidizing the polyphenols in apples, and the result you see is a browning of the damaged apple portion. It's important to handle apples delicately in order to protect their health-supportive polyphenols! (Also in this context, it's worth mentioning that damaged apples not only turn brown from the oxidation of their polyphenols, but they also start releasing relatively large amounts of ethylene gas that can pose a risk to other undamaged apples. This phenomenon is why people say that "one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch." Once again, the problem of ethylene gas from apple bruising or other damage underscores the importance of handling this amazing fruit with tender loving care and removing any damaged apples from groups of apples stored in bulk.)

    Antioxidant Benefits

    Since most of the polyphenols in apples function as antioxidants, it's not surprising to see so many health benefit studies focusing on the antioxidant benefits from apple. Particularly strong is the ability of apples to decrease oxidation of cell membrane fats. This benefit is especially important in our cardiovascular system since oxidation of fat (called lipid peroxidation) in the membranes of cells that line our blood vessels is a primary risk factor for clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and other cardiovascular problems. Apples' strong antioxidant benefits are also related to their ability to lower risk of asthma in numerous studies, and their ability to lower risk of lung cancer. In addition to their unusual polyphenol composition, apples also provides us with about 8 milligrams of vitamin C. While that amount is not a lot, it's still important, especially since the recycling of vitamin C in our body depends on the presence of flavonoids and apples do an amazing job of providing us with those flavonoids.

    Cardiovascular Benefits

    The cardiovascular benefits of apples are well-documented in research studies, and they are closely associated with two aspects of apple nutrients: their water-soluble fiber (pectin) content, and their unusual mix of polyphenols. Total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol are both decreased through regular intake of apples. In some studies, "regular intake" has meant apple intake very close to the level of one whole fresh apple per day. As mentioned earlier, the strong antioxidant composition of apples provides us with protection from possible oxidation of fats (called lipid peroxidation), including fats found in the bloodstream (like triglycerides) or fats found in the membranes of cells linking our blood vessels. Decreased lipid peroxidation is a key factor in lowering risk of many chronic heart problems. Recent research has shown that the quercetin content of apples also provides our cardiovascular system with anti-inflammatory benefits. (Our blood levels of C-reactive protein, or CRP, are reduced following consumption of apples and researchers believe that the quercetin content of apples is the primary reason for this drop in CRP.) What a fantastic combination of cardiovascular benefits from such a widely available and delicious fruit!

    Benefits for Blood Sugar Regulation

    This area of research on apple benefits is relatively new, but it's already awakening the interest of an increasing number of food scientists. At many different levels, the polyphenols in apples are clearly capable of influencing our digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, and the overall impact of these changes is to improve regulation of our blood sugar. The impact of apple polyphenols on our carbohydrate processing includes:

    • Slowing down of carbohydrate digestion. Quercetin and other flavonoids found in apples act to inhibit carbohydrate-digesting enzymes like alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. When these enzymes are inhibited, carbohydrates are broken down less readily into simple sugars, and less load is placed on our bloodstream to accommodate more sugar.
    • Reduction of glucose absorption. Polyphenols in apples clearly lower the rate of glucose absorption from our digestive tract. Once again, this change lessens the sugar load on our bloodstream.
    • Stimulation of the pancreas to put out more insulin. Getting sugar out of our bloodstream often requires the help of insulin, a hormone produced by the beta cells of our pancreas. By telling the beta cells of our pancreas to produce more insulin, the polyphenols found in apple can help us clear more sugar from our blood and keep our blood sugar level in better balance.
    • Stimulation of insulin receptors to latch on to more insulin and increase the flow of sugar out of our bloodstream and into our cells. In order for sugar to leave our bloodstream and enter our cells (especially our muscle cells), insulin receptors on those cells must bind together with the insulin hormone and create cell changes that will allow sugar to pass through the cell membrane and into the cell. (Muscle cells, for example, continuously need this uptake of sugar from the bloodstream in order to function.) Polyphenols in apples help to activate the muscle cell insulin receptors, and in this way, they help facilitate passage of sugar from our bloodstream up into our cells. Once again, the result is better blood sugar regulation in our body.

    Anti-Cancer Benefits

    Although some preliminary results show apple benefits for several different cancer types (especially colon cancer and breast cancer), it's the area of lung cancer benefits that stand out in the apple research. There are numerous studies involving vegetable/fruit intake and risk of lung cancer. The number of subjects in these studies numbers into the high hundreds of thousands. Although many research studies show an impressive ability of overall fruit and/or vegetable intake to lower lung cancer risk, very few individual fruits show up as protective against lung cancer. Except apples! It's really quite remarkable how apples have been one of the few fruits to demonstrate this unique relationship with lung cancer risk reduction. (Interestingly, this same phenomenon has to some extent also been present in research on asthma.) Researchers aren't certain why apples are so closely associated with reduction of lung cancer risk. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits are definitely involved here, but they don't fully explain why apples are such a standout in this health benefit area. We look forward to future research that will help shed light on this unique capacity in apples.

    Anti-Asthma Benefits

    Like the lung cancer benefits of apples, the anti-asthma benefits have been somewhat surprising to health researchers. Multiple studies have shown apple intake to be associated with decreased risk of asthma. However, in some cases, the study findings have been even stronger. In one study, apples showed better risk reduction for asthma than total fruit-plus-vegetable intake combined! (That comparison might seem like a contradiction since fruit-plus-vegetable intake would clearly include apples. But in this particular study, it turned out that apples were not routinely consumed by fruit-plus-vegetable eaters, such that researchers could separate out a small group of study participants who regularly ate apples and could compare this group to other study participants who regularly ate fruits-plus-vegetables but did not include apples among their fruits.) Like the anti-cancer benefits of apples, apples' anti-asthma benefits are definitely associated with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients found in this fruit. However, there is very likely to be something else going on as well since apples appear to be a truly standout fruit in this regard.

    Other Health Benefits

    While not as developed as research in other areas, preliminary health benefits of apples have also been established for several age-related health problems, including macular degeneration of the eye and neurodegenerative problems, including Alzheimer's disease. In animal studies, prevention of bone loss has also been an area of investigation, particularly related to the phloridizin content of apples.

     Health benefits of apple juice

     Apple juice contains sugar which is source of energy.Apple juice is an excellent source of fiber including both soluble and insoluble. Pectin is present in apple juice which not just removes the toxic materials from the body but also relieves the constipation.

    Use of apple in various diseases

    Inflammation

    Quercotin is a flavonoid present in apple.Quercitin reduces the sign & symptoms of seasonal hay fever. An enzymatically modified form reduces the eye symptoms but not nasal symptoms of seasonal hay fever.

    Coronary heart disease.

    Phenolic compounds present in apple skin are very useful because they reduce the deposition of cholesterol in arteries so no plaque formation and reduces the chances of coronary heart disease.

     Teeth decay

    Apple reduces tooth decay because biting and chewing of apple stimulate the saliva production which in turn inhibit bacterial growth.

    Diarrhea and constipation

    Apple is useful in both conditions diarrhea as well as constipation.Fibres have ability to pull out extra water from colon and make easy defecation of stool and also absorbs extra water from stool and slow down the movement of stool.

     Source of minerals

    Apple is source of mineral like phosphorous calcium and potassium but these mineral are present in traces .phosphorous and calcium both work together to make the bones and teeth strong and healthier.

    Potassium control blood pressure and keep heart functioning in proper way.

     

    15 health benefits of eating apples

    Many of us forget that sometimes, the simplest answers are the best. Better health could be as easy as reaching for the fruit bowl for some apples next time you need a snack

    What makes apples so great?

    In 2004, USDA scientists investigated over 100 foods to measure their antioxidant concentration per serving size. Two apples—Red Delicious and Granny Smith—ranked 12th and 13th respectively. Antioxidants are disease-fighting compounds. Scientists believe these compounds help prevent and repair oxidation damage that happens during normal cell activity. Apples are also full of a fibre called pectin—a medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fibre. Pectin is classed as a soluble, fermentable and viscous fibre, a combination that gives it a huge list of health benefits.

    1. Get whiter, healthier teeth

    An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

    2. Avoid Alzheimer’s

    A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

    3. Protect against Parkinson’s

    Research has shown that people who eat fruits and other high-fibre foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells. Scientists have linked this to the free radical-fighting power of the antioxidants contained therein.

    4. Curb all sorts of cancers

    Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 per cent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumours in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fibre intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

    5. Decrease your risk of diabetes

    Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fibre, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

    6. Reduce cholesterol

    The soluble fibre found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

    7. Get a healthier heart

    An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fibre intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

    8. Prevent gallstones

    Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fibre to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.

    9. Beat diarrhea and constipation

    Whether you can’t go to the bathroom or you just can’t stop, fibre found in apples can help. Fibre can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along when you’re backed up, or absorb excess water from your stool to slow your bowels down.

    10. Neutralize irritable bowel syndrome

    Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and bloating. To control these symptoms doctors recommend staying away from dairy and fatty foods while including a high intake of fibre in your diet.

    11. Avert hemorrhoids

    Hemorrhoids are a swollen vein in the anal canal and while not life threatening, these veins can be very painful. They are caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas. Part and parcel with controlling constipation, fibre can prevent you from straining too much when going to the bathroom and thereby help alleviate hemorrhoids.

    12. Control your weight

    Many health problems are associated with being overweight, among them heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. To manage your weight and improve your overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fibre. Foods high in fibre will fill you up without costing you too many calories.

    13. Detoxify your liver

    We’re constantly consuming toxins, whether it is from drinks or food, and your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are skeptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best—and easiest—things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is fruits—like apples.

    14. Boost your immune system

    Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you're stressed out.

    15. Prevent cataracts

    Though past studies have been divided on the issue, recent long-term studies suggest that people who have a diet rich in fruits that contain antioxidants—like apples—are 10 to 15 per cent less likely to develop cataracts.

    The Many Health & Beauty Benefits of Apples Posted April 30, 2013

    Would it surprise you to hear that apples really can keep the doctor away? And not just the cardiologist. The gastroenterologist, trichologist and dermatologist may also see less of their patients. Modern research has proven that apples really can maintain a healthy heart and colon, give one a fuller head of hair, as well as smoother skin.

    Heart Health

    apple heart health

    For as long as I can remember, apples have had a heart healthy reputation. Now, short-term and long-term research studies have explained the reasons why that reputation is well-deserved.

    According to multiple studies that have taken place over the past several years, drinking 12 oz. of apple juice each day reduces oxidation of LDL (low-density lipoproteins – the bad cholesterol) by 20%, while eating two whole apples a day has a reduction of 9%. This is a very important discovery, because LDL cholesterol oxidation activates the formation of plaque on coronary artery walls. There was no explanation for why the juice was more effective than whole apples, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that more than two apples are needed to make 12 ounces of apple juice.

    In a long-term research study, led by Dr. Victor Fulgoni, PhD. (the Iowa Women’s Health Study), which tracked more than 34,000 older Caucasian women for 18 years, a link between apple consumption and a lowered risk of dying from cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases was discovered.

    I am aware that this research study is highly controversial, as there are many who believe that this particular study was conducted for the sole purpose of discrediting nutritional supplements. However, anyone who has actually read the study can plainly see that it actually disproved what some claimed was proven. That fact alone gives the data collected credibility. In any case, I see no valid reason to disregard the apple and heart disease mortality findings, particularly when you factor in the results of other recent studies, which don’t just demonstrate the causality between apple consumption and lowered heart disease rates, but explains them.

    Another example of this would be the study the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at The Florida State University, in Tallahassee, presented at Experimental Biology 2011, in Washington, D.C.. The researchers recruited 160 women and randomly selected which would eat daily servings of dried apples and which would eat the dried plums (prunes).

    The participants received blood tests at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. Each time the researchers looked for the markers of heart health. After one year, the women in the apple group experienced a 14% drop in their total cholesterol. Their LDL cholesterol was reduced by an average of 23%. In addition, levels of lipid hydroperoxide, a biochemical involved in the formation of heart-clogging plaques, and C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation, decreased by approximately 1/3. Another benefit was that the women had lost an average of three pounds by the end of that year.

    This study’s results are consistent with the other 80+ studies conducted since 2005, ALL of which suggest that apples are highly beneficial to heart health.

    Bowel Health

    apple bowel health

    Dietary fiber is necessary to the health of your bowels and the shape of your stools. And, as everyone knows, apples are dense with fiber; and a lot of it is contained in the skin. One medium-sized apple (malus domestica) contains approximately 2.4 grams of dietary fiber.

    Fiber-filled foods like apples benefit bowel health, because the fiber helps bind together the bits of food in your small intestines as they move along to the colon, while also drawing water to the stool to make it softer and easier to pass. Apples act as a natural cleanser for the bowels, keeping the digestive system working properly. This is extremely important, because, to quote Dr. Bernard Jensen, “It is an indisputable fact that not only illness and old age but even death itself are due to the accumulation of waste products (within the body)… to the inability of the body to replenish its cellular structures and organs with fresh, vital nutrients.”

    Nothing demonstrates the truth of that quote better than colon cancer. Colon cancer is the #2 cancer killer among women, world-wide, and the #3 cancer killer of men, world-wide. Fortunately, apples aren’t just useful for prevention. A recent study demonstrated that Oligosaccharides from apples killed up to 46% of cancer cells in a human colon, outperforming the most popular chemotherapy drug on the market by a wide margin, at every dose level and without the toxic side-effects of the drug.

    Hair Health

    apple hair health

    In 2002, Japanese researchers at the Tsukuba Research Laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan discovered two natural compounds that aided hair growth. One of those compounds, Procyanidin B-2, came from unripe apples. Procyanidin B-2, a B type proanthocyanidin (a class of polyphenol- flavonoid), appears to control proteins in a way that makes new hair growth possible.

    The first clinical study treated 29 balding men with apple Procyanidin B- 2. After 6 months, it was discovered that both vellus (“baby” hair) and terminal (regular/long) hair growth in the Procyanidin B-2 group was “significantly greater” than that of the placebo control group. This proved to be true in all known studies conducted with apple Procyanidin B-2.

    In at least one of those studies, the researchers also noted an increase in hair diameter – an average diameter increase of 78.9%! And the ratio of thicker hairs was “significantly higher” than the placebo control group; and, as with the previous and following studies, the total number of hairs was also “significantly greater” than the control group. Great news for anyone suffering from male pattern baldness and thinning hair.

    Ripe apples also contain Procyanidin B-2, though not as much as unripe apples. Keep in mind that the compound was applied topically to the scalps of the test subjects. So, there’s no need to make yourself ill, by eating multiple unripe apples, to attain the hair regrowth and thickening benefits of Procyanidin B-2.

    Skin Health

    apple skin health

    There is a plethora of anecdotal evidence and first-person accounts of acne blemished skin being healed by consuming apples. There are even a few tales of wrinkles and fine lines being smoothed by applying apple slices and/or apple juice to the face. Such stories are all over the world wide web, in both video and blog form. And while some of these stories may strain the boundaries of credibility (wrinkle smoothing, for example), it’s highly improbably that the massive number of acne cure stories are all false.

    After all, anything that improves bowel health will benefit your entire body. Fiber cleanses the pipes, so to speak; it moves waste, and the toxins created by that waste, out of the body properly. This means that those toxins do not have to plot a secondary escape route through the body’s largest organ – the epidermis (skin) – in order to leave your body and protect your health.

    In addition, apples contain Pectin – a special kind of fiber. Pectin, whether it comes from apples or other fruits, has been proven to boost the immune system, among other things. In multiple recent studies, Pectin increased levels of interleukin-4, a compound that induces creation of infection-fighting mast cells. And anything that boosts the immune systems function is likely to keep acne at bay, because acne is (generally) caused by bacteria.

    One young man on YouTube (Acne Erasing Secrets) says that he has stumbled onto a surefire acne cure: fasting on organic apples. He claims this organic apple fast – lasting three days at a time – can clear up acne- prone skin, when performed periodically.

    Knowing that apples cleanse the bowels and boosts the immune system, I have no doubt that the an apple fast can work on people who’s acne issues are being cause by ordinary internal issues. However, if your acne is being caused by pore-plugging cosmetics or pharmaceutical drugs that contain corticosteroids, androgens or lithium, it is highly improbable that an apple fast will do you much good.

    Other Health Benefits

    • Stroke prevention – Researchers in Finland studied 9,208 peoplefor 28 years and discovered that those who frequently ate apples were less likely to suffer a stroke. Another recent study, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, indicates that fruits with white flesh – such as apples and pears – can reduce stroke risk by 52%.
    • Metabolic Syndrome – The name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Apples have been studied in reference to metabolic syndrome and the research has proven that apples lower the risk of this condition. Apples contain phytonutrients / antioxidants that support heart health, and the soluble fiber in apples lowers your risk of heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol levels. In one study, people who had reported eating any form of apples within the past 24 hours had lower blood levels of C- reactive protein – a marker for inflammation, which signifies an elevated risk for both diabetes and heart disease.
    • Cancer prevention – The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) recently added apples to their list of Foods That Fight Cancer. Their website states, “In laboratory studies, flavonoids such as quercetin and the triterpenoids found in apples have slowed the development of cancers of the colon, lung and breast in several stages of cancer development. … Current research suggests that protection may come as much from directly affecting cell growth as from antioxidant activity.” There’s also the oligosaccharides study that I mentioned earlier.
    • Weight loss – Multiple studies have shown that eating apples, and even applesauce, on a regular basis will decrease your risk of developing abdominal fat. It seems that, in addition to the Fiber in apples making one feel fuller, longer, the Pectin acts as a natural appetite suppressant. Apples are also quite low in calories and sodium, which means you won’t consume many calories even if you are somehow able to wolf down a dozen of them; nor will you retain excess water weight. The minerals and other nutrients contained in apples can help control cravings, since most carbohydrate cravings are a result of blood sugar imbalance. In one study, subjects who ate apples (and pears) not only lost more weight than the subjects who consumed the same number of calories in oat cookies, but their blood sugar levels were also lower.
    • Tooth whitening – It’s been scientifically proven that the malic acid in apples can actually whiten teeth. Malic acid is commonly used in commercial tooth whitening products, because it safely dissolves stains from the surface of teeth. So, if you want to whiten and brighten your smile, it’s as cheap and easy as chewing on an apple after meals.

    Apples are a true super-food! Not only do they help the heart, the bowels, male pattern baldness, hair thinning and skin conditions like acne; they also protect against stroke, metabolic syndrome, cancer, assist with weight loss and even whiten teeth. That is a LONG list of achievements for just one fruit. An animal study conducted at Cornell University even suggests that apples may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease! More studies need to be done on that subject, of course, but still… The potential is astonishing.

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