An Apple a Day

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed. ~ Robert H. Schuller

The simplest answer is sometimes the most beneficial and the one that works best.
Apples are a delicious fruit, packed with essential nutrients that provide vital health benefits. Research shows that an apple rich diet can help you maintain your weight, control hunger cravings, reduce the risk for heart and bone disease, and even lower the risk for colon cancer.

In 2004, USDA scientists investigated over 100 foods to measure their antioxidant concentration per serving size. Two apples—Red Delicious and Granny Smith—ranked 12th and 13th respectively. Antioxidants are disease-fighting compounds. Scientists believe these compounds help prevent and repair oxidation damage that happens during normal cell activity. Apples are also full of a fibre called pectin—a medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fibre. Pectin is classed as a soluble, fermentable and viscous fibre, a combination that gives it a huge list of health benefits.

1. Get whiter, healthier teeth

An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

2. Avoid Alzheimer’s

A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

3. Protect against Parkinson’s

Research has shown that people who eat fruits and other high-fibre foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells. Scientists have linked this to the free radical-fighting power of the antioxidants contained therein.

4. Curb all sorts of cancers

Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 per cent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumours in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fibre intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

5. Decrease your risk of diabetes

Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fibre, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

6. Reduce cholesterol

The soluble fibre found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

7. Get a healthier heart

An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fibre intake with a slower build-up of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

8. Prevent gallstones

Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fibre to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.

9. Treat diarrhoea and constipation

Whether you can’t go to the bathroom or you just can’t stop, fibre found in apples can help. Fibre can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along when you’re backed up, or absorb excess water from your stool to slow your bowels down.

10. Harmonise irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by constipation, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain and bloating. To control these symptoms doctors recommend staying away from dairy and fatty foods while including a high intake of fibre in your diet.

11. Prevent haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids are a swollen vein in the anal canal and while not life threatening, these veins can be very painful. They are caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas. Part and parcel with controlling constipation, fibre can prevent you from straining too much when going to the bathroom and thereby help alleviate haemorrhoids.

12. Healthy weight

Many health problems are associated with being overweight, among them heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea. To manage your weight and improve your overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fibre. Foods high in fibre will fill you up without costing you too many calories.

13. Detoxify your liver

We’re constantly consuming toxins, whether it is from drinks or food, and your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are sceptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best and easiest things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is fruits, like apples.

14. Boost your immune system

Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you’re stressed out.

15. Prevent cataracts

Though past studies have been divided on the issue, recent long-term studies suggest that people who have a diet rich in fruits that contain antioxidants like apples are 10 to 15 per cent less likely to develop cataracts.

Keep the doctor away with these tasty apple recipes

Ginger Apple Stir-Fry

1 lb tofu, cubed
2 medium apples, cored and sliced
2 tsp sesame oil
4 green onions, sliced
1/3 lb pea pods
1 small sweet red pepper, cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T ginger, minced
10 shitake and/or white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 C applesauce, unsweetened
1/3 C chicken or vegetable broth
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T soy sauce
1 T cornstarch

1. Heat sesame oil in non-stick skillet or wok. Add garlic and ginger, and stir for approximately 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook in hot oil until done. Remove chicken from skillet.
2. Add vegetables to skillet and cook while stirring until tender crisp. Sprinkle with pepper.
3. In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch and chicken broth or water.
4. Add chicken and sauce mixture to vegetables and cook until sauce is thickened and clear.
5. Add apples during last five minutes of preparation. Serve over steamed brown rice.
Source: U.S. Apple Association

Apple Oat Bran Muffins

3/4 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C whole-wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 C low-fat buttermilk
1/2 C oat bran
1/4 C firmly packed brown sugar
2 T vegetable oil
1 large egg or egg substitute
1-1/2 C peeled, cored, and finely chopped Golden Delicious apples

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease twelve 3-inch muffin cups or line with paper liners.
2. In large bowl, combine both flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In medium bowl, beat low-fat buttermilk, oat bran, brown sugar, oil, and egg (or egg substitute) until blended.
4. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture just until combined. Fold in apples.
5. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centres comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan 5 minutes; remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
Source: Washington Apple Commission.

Apple-Cabbage Salad

1/3 C honey
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lime zest
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/8 tsp salt
3 Granny Smith apples
4 C shredded cabbage
2 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
2 green onions, chopped
Lettuce leaves

1. In large bowl, whisk together honey, lime juice, lime zest, mustard, and salt to make dressing. Core 1 apple and cut into thin strips; add to dressing. Add cabbage, kiwifruit, and green onion; toss well.
2. To serve, core and slice remaining two apples; arrange on top of lettuce. Mound cabbage mixture in centre.
Source: Washington Apple Commission.

James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.