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An Apple a Day Really Can Keep the Doctor Away

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Most people know that fruits should be part of any healthy diet. All fruits provide benefits, but all fruits are not equally health enhancing. With so many fruits to choose from, which ones should we make sure we eat often?

In the course of researching the benefits of various fruits as part of my quest to improve my own diet, I noticed that one fruit stood out as being exceptionally healthful. That fruit is the common apple. Let’s look at this fruit, and see what makes it such a powerful ally.


Antioxidants, molecular scavengers of free radicals, protect our cells from the damage that is a byproduct of normal metabolism. A medium sized apple contains triple the amount of antioxidants of an orange of the same size and eight times that of a medium sized banana.

It turns out that there are many types of antioxidant molecules in apples. Let’s take a close look at two of the most important ones, quercetin and naringin.

Quercetin is a plant pigment and a bioflavonoid. It is a very powerful anti-oxidant. Like all antioxidants, quercetin neutralizes free radicals. As such, it is anti-inflammatory.

This might explain why apples and their juice appear to have a strong anti-asthma effect. Some sources claim that apple juice has a stronger anti-asthma effect than any other food. While I haven’t been able to find proof that apples are, in fact, the very, very best food for reducing the frequency and severity of asthma attacks, there is good evidence that apples are effective.

One piece of evidence in support of this claim is the fact that asthmatics benefit from supplementation with pure quercetin. In fact, it turns out that supplementing with 400 mg daily of quercetin in its pure form can help lessen the severity of a variety of allergies. It does this by inhibiting the release of histamine in response to allergy triggers.

As for the fruit itself, a study published in the American Journal Of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, UK reported that adults who ate at least two apples a week reduced their asthma risk by up to a third. A different study demonstrated something even more remarkable. Mothers who ate apples during pregnancy significantly reduced the risk that their children would develop asthma. So whether apples are the “best” natural food to add to an asthmatic’s diet, or just a very good one, there is little doubt that apples can provide real benefits for asthmatics.

As I mentioned earlier, another antioxidant that is contained in apples is naringin. Researchers from Tohoku Pharmaceutical University, Japan, found that naringin reduced the cytotoxicity of hydrogen peroxide ( H2O2). Hydrogen peroxide is a normal, but highly destructive, byproduct of our metabolism. H2O2 can attack DNA in our cells, especially within mitochondria, the energy production units all cells contain. Damage to DNA can cause mutations which can cause various disabilities and diseases including cancers. Naringin can protect against this damage and maintain the integrity of DNA.

Since both querceti and naringin are anti-oxidants, either one of them, or both in combination might explain the observed fifty percent lower risk of lung cancer, and seventeen percent lower risk of breast cancer that has been observed in people who eat apples regularly.


Pectin is a complex of polysaccharides that are found in the cell walls of plants. Pectin is particularly abundant in apple skins. It is used commercially to thicken jams and jellies.

Pectin is composed of many units of sugar acids, primarily D- galacturonic acid, inked together as a polymer. When pectin is digested, these galacturonic units can dissociate and enter the bloodstream where they can exert various beneficial effects.

For one, the galacturonic acid lowers the body’s need for insulin. In this way, apples can help diabetics manage their condition more easily.


  • It can also help dieters loose weight by causing a feeling of fullness by congealing into a jelly like substance in the digestive system.
  • Researchers have found also that a diet rich in apple pectin can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol level by sixteen percent by binding to LDL cholesterol.
  • Extracts from apple skin have also been shown to reduce the likelihood of contracting colon cancer and liver cancer. Whether this is from the pectin or from the quercetin or naringin or some other factor is unknown, it is certainly good news.

Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to antioxidants and pectin, apples contain wealth of vitamins. Take a look at this list:

  • Vitamin A – 98 IU
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.031 mg
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.047 mg
  • Niacin – 0.166 mg
  • Folate – 5 mcg
  • Pantothenic Acid – 0.111 mg
  • Vitamin B6 – 0.075 mg
  • Vitamin C – 8.4 mg
  • Vitamin E – 0.33 mg
  • Vitamin K – 4 mcg

Apples also contain significant quantities of the following minerals:

  • Potassium – 195 mg
  • Calcium – 11 mg
  • Phosphorus – 20 mg
  • Magnesium – 9 mg
  • Manganese – 0.064 mg
  • Iron – 0.22 mg
  • Sodium – 2 mg
  • Copper – 0.049 mg
  • Zinc – 0.07 mg


A medium sized apple also contains about 4.4 grams of healthful fiber. Each day, more and more medical studies are showing us the wide range of health benefits that fiber provides.

With all of these benefits, it makes sense to take advantage of the fact that apples are a so good for us and add them to our diet, but there is one more reason to eat them.

Apples Taste Good

In addition to apples’ benefits to our physical health, sweet, delicious apples delight the palate. A healthy diet brings long term benefits only if it can be maintained. While bean sprout and tofu sandwiches or kale and beet vege-shakes are sure to be loaded with nutrients, these are bland, and, for most people, inconvenient, unappealing meal choices that will discourage all but the most dedicated health enthusiasts. Apples, on the other hand, are tasty, easy to find, require no preparation, and are convenient to carry with you in your car, on your bike, to work, or on a hiking trail.

With all of the appealing characteristics and benefits that apples provide, they are my top recommendation in the fruit category.

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