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Apple peels contain twelve anti-cancer compounds called "triterpenoids"

Wednesday, January 02, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: triterpenoids, anti-cancer food, apples

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(NewsTarget) Apple peels contain as many as a dozen cancer-fighting chemical compounds, according to a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

"We found that several compounds have potent anti-proliferative activities against human liver, colon and breast cancer cells, and may be partially responsible for the anti-cancer activities of whole apples," said Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food science.

The researchers extracted each individual chemical compound found in the peels of 230 pounds of Red Delicious apples. They then tested these compounds individually against cultures of cancer cells in the laboratory. They identified 12 compounds, called triterpenoids, which inhibited the growth of cancer cells or even killed them.

Previous research at Cornell has helped illuminate the health benefits of apples. Laboratory studies have shown that apples inhibit cancer cells and also reduce the growth and number of breast cancer tumors in rats. A number of phytochemicals, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, have been isolated from apples and demonstrate similar effects. Some Cornell researchers have also hypothesized that apples may have a preventive effect against Alzheimer's disease.

Like other fruits and vegetables, apples also improve general health and provide protection against a host of illnesses.

"We believe that a recommendation that consumers eat five to twelve servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily is appropriate to reduce the risks of chronic diseases, including cancer, and to meet nutrient requirements for optimum health," Liu said.

Apples are a highly popular fruit, with the average U.S. consumer eating 20 pounds (9 kilograms) per year, or about one every four days, and the average European consumer eating 44 pounds (20 kilograms) per year, or about 1.5 per day.

However, the Environmental Working Group warns that apples rank second only to peaches in terms of highest concentration of pesticides in non-organically grown vegetables. Washing reduces but does not remove pesticide residue.

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