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Apples Contain a Powerhouse Nutrient


Fun Facts: (i.1)

Apples were originally discovered in the Caspian and Black sea areas.

Apples have been used as a home remedy for warts. According to folk lore, if you rub an apple slice against the wart and bury it, the wart will wither away as the piece decomposes.

In the United States, there are about ten different varieties of apple that are widely available and most commonly consumed. Among them, Fuji contains the highest antioxidant content and the greatest amount of beneficial compounds. Red Delicious, Gala and Golden Delicious varieties contain less antioxidants, while Cortland and Empire have the lowest amounts. Inflammation is a main cause of cancer development, and according to U.S. Department of Agriculture research quercetin is one of five main anti-inflammatory plant compounds. (i.25 ,12)

Apple peel contains many beneficial flavonoids, including quercetin and rutin. The skin of all varieties, including Granny Smith and Braeburn, contains good amounts of quercetin. Quercetin is thought to help prevent cancer and heart disease and provide additional health benefits to the skin, brain, and other organs.It is a powerful free radical fighter that prevents damage to cells in the body. In the brain, it helps protect against cellular damage that can lead to memory loss. (i.125)

Ultraviolet radiation (UVA, UVB, and UVC wavelengths) from the sun has been linked to skin cancer. In the skin, quercetin may act as a UVB blocker, protecting against UVB radiation-induced free radicals in the skin during sun exposure. UV damage to our skin can cause basal and squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma types of skin cancer, and at the very least, unwelcome wrinkles and age spots(i.513)

Another fighter of free-radicals, rutin has also been shown to have healing effects on skin cells. It is thought to strengthen capillary walls, providing benefits as an antioxidant and in conditions such as varicose veins. (i.512)

Besides antioxidant compounds, beneficial attributes of apples include high levels of soluble fiber, phytochemicals, flavonoids, vitamin C, and carotenoids, some of which also have antioxidant capabilities. Soluble fiber in apples, such as pectin, helps to slow the release of sugar into the blood stream during digestion and can lower insulin spikes. Apples are high in the phytochemical chlorogenic acid and the flavonoid phloridzin, both associated with cancer prevention. In fact, animal studies shown that chlorogenic acid protects against the cancer-causing effects of powerful carcinogens. (i.14)

Best Ways to Use Apples

A good way to maximize the benefits of apples in your diet is to combine with foods that contain vitamin E, such as almonds (e.g., in a salad or strudel). Combining vitamin C and vitamin E actually provides more UV skin protection. Quercetin and rutin are most highly concentrated in the skin of apples, so some antioxidant benefit is lost when apples are processed without the peel such as in apple juice and apple sauce. However, though apple juice contains only about 10% of the vital antioxidant compounds as a raw apple it is among the best choices when compared with the juice of other fruits, second only to Concord grape juice in antioxidant capacity and polyphenol content. Cloudy apple juice is considered more beneficial than clear apple juice, as it contains four times more protective polyphenols. Heat destroys some nutrients as well, so cooked apples may lose some beneficial compounds. (i.121213)

Certain varieties of apples are better suited for different types of preparation. Granny Smith and Rome apples have a softer flesh and are best for baking. When prepared in salads or eaten raw, a crisp variety, such as Fuji and Red Delicious, is best. Golden Delicious is a good general purpose apple that bakes well or can be used raw. (i.1)

Picking and Storing Apples

When selecting apples, it is best to go with organically grown if available. Because of their susceptibility to a variety of pests, apples are the most pesticide sprayed produce in North America. If organic apples are unavailable, be sure to thoroughly wash the wax from apples as it holds the pesticides close to the skin. Generally speaking, super market apples should only be chosen if homegrown or organic apples are not readily attainable, due to the high concentration of chemicals. (i.245)

Fresh apples should be used quickly or stored in the refrigerator no more than 100 days since they ripen much faster at room temperature and lose quercetin content. To obtain the highest amounts of quercetin, nutritionists recommend Granny Smith and Braeburn types. (i.2)

When preparing cut apples, squeeze lime, lemon, or orange juice over the flesh to keep it from browning. Bruised or rotten apples release a gas that promotes fruit ripening but can lead to spoilage too. (i.1)

Darker hyperpigmented spots on the skin. (i.5)
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