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The Amazing Apple

04. January 2012

Forget berries – today’s trendy apples are all the rage! 

Apples.  They’re in the same food group as many of the other nutrient-rich foods we’re encouraged to eat each day.  But have you noticed your favorite Fuji doesn’t get the same pub as some of the flashier fruits and veggies out there?  Check out any “top 10” list of power-packed fruits and poor old Granny Smith doesn’t even make the cut.  The mighty McIntosh is forced to take a back seat to “super fruits” such as pomegranates and goji berries. 

Why is that?  Growing up, apples were a healthy mainstay in my diet alongside a sandwich and Oreos in my lunch box – sliced and dipped in peanut butter for an after-school snack…cooked into a sweet sauce with pork chops for dinner.   Whatever happened to, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?!” 

Apples may get overlooked because they’re considered commonplace.  Well, I beg to differ! If you’re bored with Red Delicious, may I suggest you sink your teeth into one of the popular, new apple hybrids? With voluptuous varieties such as Honey Crisp, Ginger Gold, Ruby Jon and Lady Suncrisp – how much more excitement do you need?  I just topped off my typical turkey-on-whole-grain-bread-sandwich lunch with a burst of flavor from an Arkansas Black...tart, sweet…and so deep red in color it’s almost black!  

Boring?  I don’t think so. Apples come in more than 80 varieties. (makes the acai berry seem not-so super!) From Gala to Jonathan...Rome to Braeburn, apples are not only fun, they’re good for you – full of vitamin C, fiber, heart-healthy anti-oxidants and a host of other health benefits: 

1. Bone Protection: A flavanoid called phloridzin – found only in apples may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis, and may also increase bone density. Boron, another ingredient in apples, also strengthens bones. 

2. Asthma Help:  A recent study shows that children with asthma who drank apple juice every day suffered from less wheezing than children who drank apple juice less frequently.  Another study shows children born to women who eat a lot of apples during pregnancy have lower rates of asthma. 

3. Alzheimer’s Protection: A Cornell University study found that the quercetin in apples may protect brain cells from the kind of free radical damage that may lead to Alzheimer’s. 

4. Lower Cholesterol: The pectin in apples lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by as much as 16 percent. 

5. Lung Cancer Protection: According to a study of 10,000 people, those who ate the most apples had a 50 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer – believed to be due to the high levels of the flavanoids quercetin and naringin in apples. 

6. Breast Cancer Prevention: A Cornell University study found rats who ate an apple a day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 17 percent.  Rats fed three apples per day reduced their risk by 39 percent.  Those who ate 6 apples had a 44 percent lower risk! 

7. ColonCancer Protection: One study found that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 43 percent lower risk of colon cancer. Other research shows the pectin in apples reduces the risk of colon cancer and helps maintain a healthy digestive tract. 

8. Liver Cancer Protection: Researchers found rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 57 percent lower risk of liver cancer. 

9. Diabetes Management: The pectin in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body which lowers the body’s need for insulin and may help in the management of diabetes. 

10. Weight Loss: A Brazilian study found that women who ate three apples or pears per day lost more weight than women who did not eat fruit while dieting. 

So, go ahead.  Eat your fancy fruit but don’t forget to add an apple once in awhile.  A winsome Winesap may have caused problems in the Garden of Eden, but when it comes to nutrition, apples are all good.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.