An Apple A Day...
Apples originated in central Asia. They became popular in Europe where they began to grow the trees. Colonists to the United States brought apples with them. The only apple native to the United States is the crab apple.
The colonists planted trees that were not successful in the beginning. Eventually new species of apples evolved according to environment.
Today there are more than 7,500 different types of apple. You can choose the apple that you find most attractive. Or perhaps you like a specific type of apple for the recipe you are using. Maybe you like to use the various colors to brighten a table with a large display of apples.
Most of us are familiar with apples. But how much do we really know? There is a lot to learn.
The apple is a member of the rose family. Apparently genetic mixing with the crab apple has made the apples of today more like the crab apple and less like the original apples from Asia. But even today almost half of the world's apple production comes from China.
The seeds of apples contain amygdalin. When digested the amygdalin releases a small amount of hydrogen cyanide. It would take a lot of seeds to kill you but Mom was right. You should probably not eat the seeds.
Up until the last century apples were collected in the fall. They were canned and turned into apple butter and apple sauce to help preserve them. They were also kept in cellars where the frost could not damage them. They would dry out somewhat but they were still usable in cooking for a long time.
In the United States the benefits of apples was recognized quite early. John Chapman, for instance, traveled the country handing out seeds (free) and planting groves of trees. To read more about Johnny Appleseed you can check this link; Johnny Appleseed.
The nutritional benefits are many. Apples contain no fat, no sodium, and no cholesterol. They are a good source of fiber. One medium apple has about 100 calories. And each and every apple is full of anti-oxidants. Those are the things that fight so many diseases in our bodies.
Two thirds of the fiber and a great many anti-oxidants are found in the peel and the meat of the apple right next to the peel. Almost half of the Vitamin C is just beneath the skin. The skin also contains the smell that makes an apple so appealing. And besides tasting good the peel adds a lot of color.
Anti-oxidants help reduce damage to cells. Damaged cells are susceptible to disease.
If you are trying to lose weight or maintain a certain weight apples can help. Apples are naturally sweet so they can satisfy that feeling of wanting something sweet. Eating whole apples is best for this. The chewing action adds to the feeling of satisfaction.
If an adult eats one medium sized apple about 15 minutes before a meal, they will lessen the caloric intake during the meal. A study in Brazil shows that eating an apple before a meal helped women lose 33% more weight than women who ate nothing.
Fiber helps in weight control. It makes you feel full and satisfied. The pectin in apples is one of those fibers. And the amount of fiber in an apple is the same as a serving of bran cereal.
An added benefit to weight loss is that apples contain anti-oxidants that allow oxygen to reach the lungs more readily. This gives you a higher endurance level. When you are exercising you will feel more energy and less tired. It all helps with a dietary program.
Apple peels contain ursolic acid. In studies involving rats ursolic acid increases muscle fat and brown fat as it decreases white fat, obesity, glucose intolerance, and fatty liver disease. Brown fat is a fat that uses the energy from white fat to generate heat in the body.
In many cases, diabetes can be influenced by obesity. There are several ways that apples help combat diabetes.
The polyphenols in apples influence our digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates. That will help regulate blood sugar levels. The way this happens is that the flavinoids in apples inhibit carbohydrate-digesting enzymes. The carbohydrates are less readily broken down into simple sugars. Less load is placed on you bloodstream to accommodate more sugar.
Polyphenols also lower the rate of glucose absorption in the digestive tract. This also lessens the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.
Regulating the amount of sugar in the bloodstream is the job of insulin which is produced by the pancreas. The polyphenols in apples stimulate the beta cells of the pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin clears more sugar from the bloodstream making a better sugar balance.
More than that insulin receptors are stimulated and collect more insulin to increase the flow of sugars out of the blood and into the cells. Without the nourishment of the sugars our cells, especially muscle cells weaken. The cells burn the sugar and release the remains back into the bloodstream.
A study of almost 200,000 people found that people who ate three servings of apples, grapes, raisins, blueberries, or pears had a 7% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Cancer is still such an ugly word. But apples can help prevent and fight cancers. Triterpenoids may help fight liver, breast, and colon cancer. There has been great success in lessening the risks and affects of lung cancer.
The anti-oxidants help with cell health. Stimulating blood flow helps rid the body of toxins. The less time those poisons are in our bodies the less time they have to case damage. There is even some evidence that the anti-oxidants of apples are at work protecting us from cancer before we are even born.
Apples improve neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters can improve your memory. This gives great hope for being able to control or even eradicate neurodegenerative problems. These diseases include Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Even Parkinson's disease shows improvement when apples were consumed.
Apples are good for your teeth. They contain malic acid which is used in many of the whitening products you can buy for your teeth. Malic acid dissolves stains. To get the best effect chew the apple thoroughly. There is also a mild abrasive in the pulp. Just remember to rinse your teeth after you are finished. It is an acid after all and it will continue to be on your teeth.
Eating and chewing an apple will stimulate the production of salive which is nature's way of cleaning your mouth. It will reduce the risk of tooth decay by lowering the levels of harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Some of the other benefits to your health include boosting the immune system, reducing the risk of stroke, reducing cholesterol, preventing gallstones, easing sleep apnea, and preventing cataracts. Apples reduce mucus build-up. Apples have been shown to reduce bone loss, lessen macular degeneration of the eyes, rid the liver of toxins so it can heal, and helps eliminate heavy metals like lead and mercury from the body.
Researchers were surprised to find that apples are associated with a decreased risk of asthma. While the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agents are partly responsible for this there seems to be something else that occurs. No other fruit or vegetable has the same benefits as apples. Five apples a week will significantly lower the risks for any respiratory diseases.
Apples are invaluable for the heart and vascular system. First the fibers and polyphenols of apples attach to fats in the blood. The help flush out those fats that would attach to vessel and heart walls as cholesterol decreasing the amount of cholesterol in the system. An apple a day works well.
Apples and the inflammatories in them are good for the heart. C-reactive proteins are reduced after eating apples. Many chronic heart problems are caused by C-reactors and cholesterol.
Potassium and other trace minerals in apples help regulate blood pressure and the rate your heart beats. They also balance out the salt needed to keep a regular heart beat.
The vitamin C in apples helps in making collagen. Collagen aids in healing wounds. It also keeps skin healthy and young looking.
Apples aid in digestion from beginning to end. When you bite into and apple you begin making salive which is one of the digestive juices. Apples affect the bacteria in the digestive system to help regulate digestion throughout.
The soluble fibers slow digestion so that your body gets the most value possible from the foods you eat. The insoluble fibers found mostly in the peel help push waste through the system and out to keep your body free of the toxins. The more quickly the waste moves through the body the softer the stool and less need for straining to eliminate the waste.
It may sound contradictory but apples can regulate and treat both constipation and diarrhea. The fiber in apples can pull water out of the colon to make things move if there is a back-up. If the stool is too loose the fiber will absorb water from the stool the try to slow things down. This is why apples are good use to treat irritable bowel syndrome.
Regulated bowels are important to health. Regular and easy elimination prevents or eases hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are a swollen vein similar to varicose veins in your legs. But hemorrhoids are located in the anal canal. Too much pressure in pelvic and rectal areas cause and inflame them. Soft stool that is regularly eliminated will ease the symptoms.
Diverticulitis and cancers are also concerns that apples can alleviate. A clean and detoxified digestive system is so important to health of the whole body.
Eat an apple at least every couple of days. Of course you should still visit your doctor regularly but perhaps you can make it just a friendly visit.