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Let food be your medicine




APPLES (Malus domestica)



According to the latest research, the old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," is not just folklore but scientific fact. The many important nutrients in apples especially fibre and flavonoids, help to keep the body healthy. One medium (142 grams or 5 oz) unpeeled apple provides over three grams of fibre which is more than 10% of the daily fibre intake recommended by experts. Even without its peel, a medium apple provides 2.7 grams of fibre. Apples are a natural prebiotic food which means they are food for the intestinal flora and can therefore help keep the digestive and excretory systems in good working order.

Apples have two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble, that can lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke. Apple's insoluble fibre works like bran, latching on to LDL cholesterol in the digestive tract and removing it from the body, while apple's soluble fibre pectin reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol produced in the liver. Adding just one large apple to the daily diet has been shown to decrease serum cholesterol eight to eleven percent. Eating two large apples a day can lowered cholesterol levels by up to 16%.

Rutin is a flavonoid found in apple skins that has anti-thrombotic properties by preventing venous clots and acts on the circulatory system to strengthen blood vessels, especially the tiny capillaries in the eyes, and this makes it very effective in easing bleeding and circulation problems.

Health disorders rutin can help to treat and prevent


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Apple skin is a major food source of a potent flavonoid called quercetin. Benefits derive from the antioxidant activity of quercetin, especially when it teams up with another antioxidant, vitamin C, to bolster the body's immune defenses. This dynamic antioxidant duo provides another way (in addition to fibre) to protect against cancer and also helps prevent the free radical damage to LDL cholesterol that promotes heart disease. It also helps the body defend itself against harmful micro-organisms and can improve the tissue health of the intestinal wall which can help when there is an overgrowth of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines.

Consuming foods, like apples, that are rich in polyphenols can be beneficial to those suffering with diabetes. Additionally, apples derive almost all of their natural sweetness from fructose, a simple sugar, but one which is broken down slowly, especially when combined with apples' hefty dose of fibre, thus helping to keep blood sugar levels stable. Also, the phloridzin in apples causes inhibition of sodium/glucose co-transporters in the kidneys and intestine which lowers absorption of glucose. It can help regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics naturally and prevents bone loss associated with menopause.

The phytosterols in apples inhibit the intestinal absorption of cholesterol. Daily consumption of foods with at least 0.8 g of plant sterols or stanols lowers human serum LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They can also reduce inflammation and improve urinary tract symptoms related to benign prostatic hyperplasia (noncancerous enlargement of the prostate) .

Regular consumption of apples can also prevent breast cancer. Apples worked in a dose dependent manner; the more apples eaten, the more protection. They are found to be most consistently associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma, and type 2 diabetes when compared to other fruits and vegetables. In addition, eating apples is also associated with increased lung function and increased weight loss. Apples may also help combat cholera caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria.

Quinic acid is a sugar found in apples which is not produced by the human body. In humans, quinic acid is turned into hippuric acid while in the gastrointestinal tract. The presence of quinic acid has been shown to aid in the metabolism of tryptophan and nicotinamide by stimulating these antioxidants and increasing the levels of them. Tryptophan serves as a precursor for, and raises levels of, serotonin which is the calming neurotransmitter that helps the body regulate appetite, sleep patterns and mood and promotes contentment and relaxation. In studies, quinic acid shows promise in the treatment of radiation exposure.

Apple skins are a rich source of pectin that acts as a natural chelating agent. This means it is a compound that has an affinity for other molecules and has the ability to bind to radioactive residues and remove them from the body. Chelating agents bind to other compounds, dragging them out of tissues or the bloodstream, so they can be removed from the body in urine or faeces.

When the body synthesises protein, ammonia (uric acid) is formed in the liver as a waste product, and too large amounts of protein into the diet can result in too much ammonia being formed and in so doing place extra stress on the liver and kidneys to flush it out the body. High levels of ammonia are toxic to the nervous system, with symptoms that include vomiting and tremors and can lead to coma and death. If nitrogen intake exceeds nitrogen excretion, as can occur with high-protein diets, excess protein leaves the body accompanied by calcium, increasing the risk for kidney stones and osteoporosis.

Animal protein makes the body acidic and excessive dietary protein from foods with high potential renal acid load adversely affects bone, due to excessive calcium loss, unless buffered by the consumption of alkaline foods. Apples are an alkaline food and therefore good to consume if suffering from gout and other conditions caused by acidity and high levels of uric acid.

The growth of many bacteria, fungi, viruses and yeasts are inhibited by natural food tannins like those found in apples but eating too much of them without vitamin C can cause headache, migraine and kidney problems.

Recently, crude extracts from immature apples were found to inhibit cholera in a dose dependent manner by up to 98%. Fuji apples have the highest total phenolic and total flavonoid compounds, but red apples were also quite high. These apple varieties also tended to have higher antioxidant activity.

Red apple skins contain boron which is responsible for keeping the calcium levels in the body the balanced and also involved in the metabolism of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is responsible for the structure and maintenance of strong bones reducing the chance of developing arthritis and osteoporosis and may help to ease arthritis symptoms. It is also beneficial for regulating hormones, hence reducing symptoms of menopause, psoriasis and rosacea, prevents blood clots and has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It can raise the testosterone levels in men and help to build up muscles and also plays a very important role in checking growth of germs in the mouth as well promoting the health of bones and teeth.

NOTE: Supplements of boron should never be taken as toxicity can be harmful. Symptoms of toxicity are: red rash, vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased blood circulation and shock followed by coma. Symptoms occur at doses of approximately 100 milligrams. A dose of 15 to 20 grams is fatal for adults and, for children, just 3 to 6 grams is fatal.

Iodine is a trace mineral element, found in apples, which regulates the rate of energy production and body weight and promotes proper growth. It improves mental alacrity and promotes healthy hair, nails, skin and teeth. It also stimulates the liver to produce the good HDL cholesterol, determines the level of the metabolism, relieves pain by connective tissue inflammations in the breasts (fibrocystic breast problems), prevents thyroid gland disturbances, loosens mucus that may block the airways, is a natural anti-inflammatory and disinfection agent and offers protection against the poisonous effects of radioactive substances.

The thyroid gland uses iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to produce the hormones thyroxin and triiodothyronine. Both of these hormones function to regulate cellular metabolism. Metabolism refers to all of the processes that make energy available to cells. As such, these hormones regulate the conversion of glycogen (stored glucose) to glucose.

Lithium (100 mg of apple contains 1449 µg) is a nutritionally essential trace element with a potential to decrease mortality and provide anti-aging capabilities and has therapeutic properties with bi-polar and manic-depressive disorders. Lithium also has an effect on the potassium and sodium balance in the body. In addition to treating patients with depression, lithium has been used with some success for Ménière's disease, Huntington's chorea and alcoholism. It may also be beneficial for brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis but trials are still underway.

Silica, found in apples, is known as the " beauty mineral " as it is essential for the growth of skin, hair shafts, nails and other outer coverings of the body. It also makes the eyes bright and assists in hardening the enamel of the teeth. It is beneficial in all healing process and protects body against many diseases such as tuberculosis, irritations in mucous membranes and skin disorders. Silica has a powerful influence on the absorption of minerals required by the body for optimal health. It enhances the function of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and boron and is essential for normal bone development. Silica helps to maintain the correct calcium-magnesium balance which is essential for bone health. Low levels of silica can lead to soft brittle nails, ageing symptoms of skin such as wrinkles, thinning or loss of hair, poor bone development, insomnia, osteoporosis and rosacea.

Significant nutrients in apples

  • Alanine

  • Arginine

  • Asparagnine

  • Aspartic acid

  • Beta carotene

  • Betaine

  • Choline

  • Cryptoxanthin

  • Cystine

  • Flavonoids

  • Fructose

  • Glucose

  • Glutamic acid

  • Glycine

  • Histidine

  • Insoluble fibre

  • Isoleucine

  • Leucine

  • Lutein

  • Lysine

  • Methionine

  • Pectin

  • Phenylalanine

  • Phloridzin

  • Phytosterols

  • Proline

  • Quercetin

  • Quinic acid

  • Rutin

  • Serine

  • Soluble fibre

  • Sucrose

  • Tannins

  • Threonine

  • Tryptophan

  • Tyrosine

  • Valine

  • Zeaxanthin


NOTE: The fat-soluble nutrients in apples, such as carotenoids, must be consumed with a little oil or fatty foods to be absorbed by the body, therefore, apples should always be consumed along side other foods such as avocado, cheese, fish, nuts, seeds or a cold-pressed plant oil. Chopping them raw into salads and using an oil dressing addresses this issue.

Vitamins in apples

  • A (retinol, retinal, retinoic acid)

  • B1(thiamine)

  • B2 (riboflavin)

  • B3 (niacin)

  • B5 (pantothenic acid)

  • B6 (pyridoxine)

  • B9 (folic acid)

  • C (ascorbic acid)

  • E (tocopherols, tocotrienols)

  • K

Minerals in apples

  • Boron

  • Calcium

  • Copper

  • Fluoride

  • Iodine

  • Iron

  • Lithium

  • Magnesium

  • Manganese

  • Phosphorous

  • Potassium

  • Silica

  • Sodium

  • Zinc

NOTE: Apples are among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of apples unless they are grown organically.

NOTE: An apple a day will keep the doctor away, unless the seeds are consumed in high quantities. Like cherries and other fruits, they contain cyanogenic glycosides causing cyanide poisoning. Seeds from one apple are unlikely to cause any ill effect but people have eaten enough to die from it.

Associated articles of conditions that regular consumption of apples can help with

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC


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