By Hank Eder
Eat Well Foods Guest Blogger
Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? I heard this from my teachers and my mother when I was a boy. Since I really liked the taste and texture of crisp, juicy apples, I accepted this as gospel at the time. Now that my school days are long past, I find myself questioning much of what I once took for granted. What I found out about apples showed me just how right teachers and mothers can be. It seems the humble apple may indeed keep the doctor away.
Apples are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Back in 2000, researchers from Cornell University discovered that these phytonutrients (or phytochemicals) are responsible for the apple’s incredible antioxidant properties. According to the scientists who conducted the study, some of the phytochemicals are known to be anti-allergenic, some are anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-proliferative. What does this mean in layman’s terms? It means that apples are really good for you!
More recent studies at the University of California at Davis show another dramatic health benefit from eating apples. They discovered that people who eat two apples a day have a significant slowing of LDL oxidation (the process that leads to plaque buildup in our arteries).
How does this work? Scientists have found that apple antioxidants become part of the LDL molecule, so these antioxidants are oxidized instead of LDL. This process significantly slows the progression of atherosclerosis. Also, the aforementioned Cornell researchers showed in test tube experiments that the apple phytochemicals not only block oxidation of LDL cholesterol, but they also prompt the lover to sprout additional LDL receptors, with the end result being lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol. Apples also slow down cholesterol production in the liver in a way that resembles the actions of statin drugs, but without the side-effects.
These benefits are brought to you by the interaction of polyphenols and apple pectin, rather than by the isolation of either compound. So once again, a food in its natural state is shown to be far superior to chemical extracts taken in isolation.
Since our relationship with apples goes back many thousands of years, it’s no wonder why our bodies contain receptors to reap the many health-giving benefits of these fragrant and delicious fruits. Apples are far more than just food; they are natural medicines just as nature intended them.
So if you haven’t already developed an appreciation for apples, now is a great time to start. They might just keep the doctor away.