Nutrition and Health Thrive with An Apple a Day
So many nutrition myths are untrue, even downright harmful. Yet the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has important clues to staying healthy and thin. This popular fruit earns its place as a health symbol. When you understand why, you have the information to maximize the benefits to you.
All whole plant foods are rich in beneficial, nutritionally active substances called phytochemicals. Plants make up to 100,000 kinds of these substances to protect themselves from insects, infections, the strong energy in sunlight, and other threats.
Phytochemicals include the substances that determine the appealing colors, delightful aromas, and delicious flavors of whole plant foods. In apples, over 250 kinds of phytochemicals determine the fragrance alone. Vitamins are not the same thing as phytochemicals. While apples are a good source of vitamin C, in whole apples this vitamin accounts for only .4% of the fruit’s antioxidant activity. The vast majority of the health-promoting effects are from phytochemicals.
These protective substances are densest in the skin of the apple. This makes sense when you remember that the skin must protect the fruit and seeds from natural forces that could cause premature decay, thus preventing the seed from growing into a new tree.
You are best off eating the whole apple, not its more processed applesauce or juice form. Since the skin is highest in phytochemicals, eat your apples unpeeled if at all possible. Each step away from the whole fruit results in nutrient loss. If you really want apple juice, try fresh pressed cider that is still cloudy with bits of fruit.
For apples, you get the strongest team of powerful phytochemicals by eating apples of various varieties from different farms. Each of the 7,500 apple varieties has its own nutritional profile, and the variations in soil nutrients and weather at different locations will also affect the fruits’ content.
Researchers have demonstrated impressive health benefits for apples.
- Apples work to keep cancer cells from proliferating. The many beneficial nutrients in the fruit have a variety of powerful cancer-fighting effects, ranging from neutralizing dangerous free radicals to reducing inflammation, inhibiting cancer cell growth, inducing malignant cells to self-destruct, and enhancing the immune system.. The risks of breast, prostate, colon, liver, and lung cancers decrease with apple consumption.
- Apples protect intestinal cells from harmful side-effects of some medications. The fiber in apples benefits intestinal health.
- Apples lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke,asthma, other lung disorders,
diabetes, and obesity.
Despite all these benefits, apples are not a super-food. Apples alone cannot protect you from the harmful effects of a diet based on animal and manufactured foods. The most important effect of apples comes as part of a whole foods, plant-based diet. The most critical factor determining your health is your overall pattern of eating.
Apples are an affordable, common, and much-loved fruit. You can buy them easily in most stores that sell food. This is a huge advantage because animal foods and manufactured junk foods are the most profitable for business and hence usually the most accessible foods. Being able to find apples easily in the midst of what is often a nutritional wasteland is a big advantage for this fruit.
Apples are a visual delight. Enjoy looking at them before you eat. Have fun picking out the ones you want at the store or farmers market. Their shape and color are appealing, and they have just the right heft to fit perfectly into your hand.
Apple trees nourish our sense of beauty with their twisting branches, heavy with blooms or fruit. Walking in or even gazing at an apple orchard is soothing and induces a strong sense of well-being and artistic inspiration.
Why choose an animal food or bag of chips when you could be savoring a fresh, crunchy, hunger-busting apple?
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, the smart person’s nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.