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An Apple A Day Helps
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Apples contain a number of useful properties. As kids we were told by mother that an eating an apple a day would keep the doctor away. They are a good source of potassium to help lower blood pressure. Apples are also a great source of soluble fibers such as pectin. This property helps lower blood cholesterol levels and blunts the blood sugar surges after a meal.

Apples contain a good supply of vitamin C, an important antioxidant in the body. In addition, apples have recently been found to contain a number of health-promoting phytochemicals, such as flavonoids. The flavonoids in fruits increase in quantity during the ripening process. It is good to consume the skin of an apple since the skin has about 8 to 10 times more flavonoids than the pulp.

Different varieties of apples contain different pigments in their skins. Yellow apples, such as golden delicious, contain carotenoids. Green apples, such as Granny Smiths, contain chlorophyll, while red apples such as red delicious contain anthocyanins. These pigments all contain cancer-protective properties.

Apples, especially the skins, are very rich in quercetin, a flavonoid that helps provide protection against brain cell damage. Flavonoids are phenolic compounds that give fruit its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are believed to counteract the damaging effects of free radicals, which have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Red apples typically have higher antioxidant levels than yellow or green apples. While apples have some of the highest levels of quercetin, other foods high in quercetin include blueberries, cranberries, and onions.1

Cancer prevention?

An apple a day may also keep the oncologist away! Eating one or more apples a day, in a recent study, reduced the risk of cancer of the mouth by 21%, colon cancer 20%, breast cancer 18%, and prostate cancer 9%. The flavonoids in apples are observed to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.2

Human studies have linked apple consumption with a reduced risk of asthma, lung cancer, diabetes, and a 20 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The flavonoids in apples, with their strong antioxidant activity, can lower cholesterol levels and protect LDL cholesterol from being oxidized, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.3

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By Winston J. Craig, R.D. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 Major phenolics in apple and their contribution to the total antioxidant capacity. Lee KW, Kim YJ, et al. J Agric Food Chem 2003;51:6516-20.

2 Does an apple a day keep the oncologist away? Gallus S, Talamini R, Giacosa A, et al.  Ann Oncol 2005;16:1841-4.

3 Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Boyer J, Liu RH. Nutr J 2004;3(1):5

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