Who does not like apples?
Apples are the most varied food on Earth, and if we are to believe the Bible, also the oldest food known to men. There are currently more than 7500 varieties of apples. They vary in shapes, sizes, colour and taste. The most popular currently are: Red Delicious, Royal Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, Idared, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Ambrosia and many others. Everyone has their own favourite and everyone loves apples. Even babies love their apple sauce. I have met many people who dislike other fruit like melons or papayas, but I have never met anyone who dislikes apples. Apples are grown in different climates but are sturdy enough to survive long, cold winter if properly stored. It has been shown that apples can retain most of their nutrients intact for up to 200 days in cold storage. This made them an ideal food, and most likely the only fruit, to last Europeans throughout their winters, for many centuries past. When fall stores of apples were depleted, new green apples appeared just a few months later, in July (now not a very popular variety of apples). The most of the varieties grown today are large and sweet, but the apples our ancestors learned to like and cultivate were small and tart, more like the crab apples of today. Then they were selectively bred throughout centuries to resemble our large and sweet apples, like Ambrosia, my personal favourite.
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Apples are nutritional powerhouses. They contain a lot of fiber (one apple has 5 grams of fiber =20% of recommended daily intake).
Apples are the source of vitamin A, C, iron, mineral boron, which promotes bone growth, and numerous antioxidants. It is best to eat your apples with the skin, since most of the nutrients reside just under the skin. Recent studies show that eating apples really promotes good health by reducing LDL cholesterol , promoting heart health (thanks to pectin and antioxidants), reducing risk of stroke, improving bowel function (all that fibre!), preventing prostate, lung and colon cancer (they have quercetin, flavanoids and other phyto-nutrients), Type II diabetes (fibre slows down absorption of sugar) and asthma. Moreover, eating apples reduces the risk of respiratory illness and promotes good lung function thanks to flavanoid phloridzin. It is also interesting to note that apples slow down aging and promote weight loss. Apples are easy to digest (except for the skin) and are very beneficial for digestive disorders. Don’t we just love apples!
How to Enjoy Your Apples
To enjoy most of the benefits it is best to eat your apples raw with the skin. It is important to pick the most ripe fruit possible for the most antioxidant content. Look for firm fruits with rich colouring (a blush in case of green apples) and with no bruising. Brown bruises are actually a form of fungus attacking the apple and ideally should be cut-off and discarded before consumption.
Apples are also a popular ingredient in cooking and baking. Tart apples, like Granny Smith, are best suited for that purpose, since they retain their texture during cooking. Apple juice is the most popular fruit juice on the planet, but when choosing your juice choose the cloudy variety over the clear juice. It has been proven that the cloudy variety had much higher flavanoid content than the clear juice.
Apple juice has been traditionally used in detox and cleansing programs by natural health proponents, including Dr. John R. Christopher, the father of American herbalism. Juice from apples was valued for its blood cleansing properties and it is still being used as an aid in liver flushes.
It is important to remember that any type of processing, cooking or juicing, greatly destroys apples’ antioxidant properties.
Apples and Toxic Chemicals
According to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen List” apples are one of the most contaminated produce on the market today. In fact they are in the second place with only the peaches being worse! That means that they contain the most pesticide and herbicide residues after being picked and sold to consumers. Let’s face it, our apple trees are one of the most heavily sprayed crops. And to make matters worse, they are quite often waxed at the grocery stores to prolong their shelf life and make them look beautiful. If these waxes are petroleum-based (which is most likely) they add a toxic load of solvents and resins to an already heavy load. Recently a growth enhancer called Auxigro, containing 30% MSG, has been approved as another spray for apple crops.
So what are we to do? The best policy is to buy only organic apples. Numerous studies have shown that organics are richer in nutrient content, so it really is the best option, although slightly more expensive.
The second choice would be to peel your apples, but then you also loose most of the fiber and antioxidants present. You can also wash your fruit thoroughly in a special fruit/vegetable wash, designed to reduce any chemical residues.
Yet another conundrum presents itself to the consumer: is it better to choose a locally grown but conventional (read: heavily sprayed) apples, or organically grown, but flown from another hemisphere? Long transport involves burning a lot of fuel as well as a long time spent in shipment. This means that the produce had to be protected from spoilage. What is the guarantee that organically grown apples from let’s say Chile were not sprayed or waxed on their way to your supermarket?
I think that there are no such guarantees and we simply have to decide for ourselves what is best.
— by Beata Antoszek
About the Author:
Beata is a natural health enthusiast and a mom looking for healthy ways to raise children. She loves camping and publishes a website for parents: http://www.momanddadcamping.com
“Three Day Cleansing Program, Mucusless Diet & Herbal Combinations” by Dr. John R. Christopher
“Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon