As the air turns cool and autumn leaves blow our minds with their beauty, we turn our thoughts to all things fall ... apples, crisp and juicy, fill the bins of both farm markets and supermarkets alike. This symbol of fall weather is so much more than the herald of the cold weather to come.
An apple a day is the cliché we have heard all our lives. But what is it about the 'forbidden fruit' from the 'Tree of Knowledge' in the Bible that helps us keep the doctor away? Is it all folklore or is there some truth to this little saying?
Not only juicy, delicious and the foundation of the most all-American of all pies, apples benefit human health in a variety of ways.
1). Naturally Beautiful Skin
Karen Behnke, founding partner of Juice Beauty, a California skin care company, says that while eating the fruit helps the skin replenish moisture, it's the acids in the fruit that can help smooth fine lines. Her solution? A green apple mask made by pureeing in a blender 1 green apple (with the skin), ½ cup green grapes, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and ¼ cup aloe vera gel to create a thick, smooth paste. Apply to face, neck and décolletage; wait 15 minutes and wash off with warm water. It not only smells yummy, but left my skin feeling supple and refreshed.
2). Breathe Easier
A study from St. George Hospital Medical School in London found that people who ate five or more apples a week had better lung function than those who didn't. Another study showed that kids who ate apples on a daily basis suffered less from wheezing than kids who ate them infrequently. The reason? Both studies found that the antioxidant, quercitan, found in apple skins may protect lungs from the harmful effects of pollution. So they're not kidding when they say an apple a day ... not peeled.
3). A Healthy Scalp
Turns out that apple cider vinegar may be the key to ending dandruff. Cal Orey, author of "The Healing Powers of Vinegar" says that apple cider vinegar may neutralize the fungus (Malassezia furfur) and restore the pH balance of the scalp linked to the production of those pesky flakes. His remedy is simple: massage a few tablespoons of vinegar into your freshly washed scalp; leave on for one minute and rinse well. Wow, you can wear black again!
4). A Skinnier You
Samantha Heller, RD says that substituting unsweetened applesauce for half the butter of oil in a cake recipe not only results in a moist, sweet cake, but trims the fat making for a dessert that is lands a little more lightly on your hips. Not only fat and cholesterol free, one cup of applesauce has almost as much fiber as one cup of brown rice, so you stay satisfied longer on smaller pieces of that cake. And since apples are considered a negative calorie food, meaning it takes more energy to digest them than they give the body, apples are a win-win for your waistline.
5). Strong Bones
French researchers have revealed that a flavenoid called phloridzin, abundant in apples, may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and may even increase bone density. One medium apple also provides 15 percent of the daily requirements of vitamin C, fiber and a host of bone-building minerals, polyphenols and flavenoids, according to Vivian Goldschmidt, MA. No wonder Eve stood so tall and straight in the Garden of Eden.
6). Manage Diabetes
Although diabetics should be wary of the sugar content of apples, studies show that the pectin in apples provides the body with galacturonic acid, which lowers the body's need for insulin and could be instrumental in helping manage diabetes. According to http://www.healthandwellness.com, this acid removes harmful waste from the bloodstream, resulting in the reduced need for insulin, sometimes by as much as 35 percent.
7). Cancer Prevention
A Cornell University study showed rats eating an apple a day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 17 percent. Rats that ate apple skins reduced their risk of colon cancer by 43 percent and their risk of liver cancer by 57 percent. And a study done on 10,000 people (not rats, very nice people) showed that eating apples regularly could reduce the risk of lung cancer by 50 percent. Maybe this fruit is not so forbidden.
8). A Healthier Heart
Studies show that people who ate two apples a day could lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 16 percent. A clinical trial of healthy adults revealed that the time it took the body to break down cholesterol increased by 20 percent after just six weeks of regular consumption of apples. Dianne Hyson, RD and lead researcher of the study said that previous studies have certainly proven that eating fruit and vegetables is associated with reduced risk of coronary disease, but this was the first clinical study to show that benefit linked specifically to apples.
9). Don't Forget to Eat an Apple
A study conducted at Cornell University showed that the quercitin in apples may protect brain cells from the kind of free radical damage that results in Alzheimer 's disease. According to Professor Thomas Shea of the University of Massachusetts, age-related neurodegeneration can be stalled by America's favorite fruit.
10). Yummy for Your Tummy
The acids in apple cider vinegar have been shown to improve digestion and deter the growth of disease-causing bacteria in the digestive tract. Plus, the minerals in the vinegar (potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium) bind to and neutralize the acids in the digestive tract to make it more alkaline when necessary. And apples themselves are no digestive slouches either. Malic and tartaric acids inhibit fermentation in the intestines and the soluble fiber, pectin, encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, according to http://www.vegparadise.com.
Throughout human history, the apple has symbolized love, fertility, pleasure ... even jealousy. Golden apples were given to Hera as a wedding gift when she marries Zeus in Greek mythology. It is said that the fragrance of an apple was inhaled by the prophet Mohammed brought to him by an angel to make his last breath pleasant. Apples were among the favorite remedies used by Hippocrates in his natural approaches to healing.
And now, the humble apple is showing itself to be one of the greatest symbols of natural health.
You heard the man ... an apple a day keeps the doctor away. And in these times of skyrocketing health care costs, well, apples should look a whole lot more appealing.