(NaturalNews) Apple blossoms are beautiful to look at and have a lovely fragrance. It's easy to believe that the fruit they create is good for you. According to legend, people have been eating apples since the Garden of Eden, but that belief didn't take hold until Hugo Van der Goes painted "The Fall of Man" in 1470 C.E. The fruit he chose to paint was the apple, which has never deserved such publicity. Apples are actually members of the rose family, which makes them related to strawberries, and they are delicious and offer many health benefits.
Apple trees originated in Eastern Europe and southwestern Asia. The Vikings believed in a magic apple that offered infinite youth. In the 1800s, Johnny Appleseed whose name was actually John Chapman, really did travel throughout the Midwestern states planting apple trees. His amazing efforts started the billion dollar apple industry we know today.
Apples are available year-round, thanks to shared harvest of the world. In the Southern hemisphere apples are in season when they are not in the Northern Hemisphere, and vice versa. This fruit, considered so ordinary by many people that it is almost forgettable, is one of the few world-wide import/export foods.
Apples are most healthful when eaten raw, with the peel. More than one-quarter of the best nutrients and fiber are contained in the peel. If you don't want to worry about chemicals, use only certified organic apples. They have not been irradiated and come from trees not treated with pesticides. For best results, choose apples that are fully ripe, store in the refrigerator and eat three or more times a week.
There are approximately 7500 varieties of apples in the world. The Red Delicious, one of about 2500 apple varieties grown in the United States, is the American favorite. Apples that have a tart, tangy-sweet flavor are becoming more popular, such as Granny Smith, Honey Crisp and Gala. The only apple that is actually native to North America is the crab apple, sometimes used for jellies, but often considered a nuisance fruit.
Research has shown that regular ingestion of fresh, raw apples reduces the risk of lung cancer. A study of 10,000 people over an unknown period of time demonstrated that lung cancer can be reduced by as much as 50 per cent. Interestingly enough, apples can also be of great benefit to those who are trying to stop smoking. The pectin in a fresh, raw apple contains chemicals that fool the body into thinking it is getting a dose of nicotine. Rats that ate the equivalent of three apples daily reduced their risk of breast cancer by 39%. In another study, rats fed an apple skin extract had a forty-three per cent lower risk of colon cancer and in yet another study, rats had a 57 per cent lower risk of liver cancer.
Natural, raw apple juice, the cloudy kind, is a great way to get most of the benefits of apples. The cloudiness is from the actual apple pulp. Be aware that juice loses about 90 per cent of the phytonutrients that raw apples contain.
The primary protective substances in apples are galacturonic acid, naringin, pectin and quercetin. Quercetin is contained in the skin and is believed by neuro-researchers to protect the brain from Alzheimer's disease. Pectin and naringin have been proven to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol. In one study, people who ate two apples daily lowered their LDL by as much as sixteen per cent. Galacturonic acid is used by the body to lower the need for insulin. Apples contain a natural flavonoid, phloridzin. This amazing chemical is unique to the apple and is thought to be the reason apples are important to lung health.
Never underestimate the apple. Although it is available almost anywhere, apples are anything but common. They have an amazing combination of nutrients that makes them one of the best things any human can eat.
Liu RH, Boyer J. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutr J. 2004 May 12;3(1):5. 2004. PMID:15140261.
Bazzano LA, He J, Ogden LG, Loria CM, Whelton PK. Dietary fiber intake and reduced risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Arch Intern Med. 2003 Sep 8;163(16):1897-904 2003.
Wood, Rebecca. 1988. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. Prentice-Hall Press; New York, NY. PMID:15220. --
About the author
Sheryl is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner. Her website www.younglivingguide.com provides the latest research on preventing disease, looking naturally gorgeous, and feeling emotionally and physically fabulous. You can also find some of the most powerful super foods on the planet including raw chocolate, purple corn, and many others.
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