Benefits of Apples are Skin Deep

Apples are more than just a wholesome snack. Research have shown that eating apples can help reduce the risk of heart disease, and they may also help protect you from lung cancer. In addition, they may lower your risk of asthma and improve your overall long function. Antioxidant Protection Phenolics are some of the most powerful disease-fighting components in apples, and they have been getting a lot of research attention lately. Phenolics are a type of phytochemicals that can act as powerful antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals before they can get a change to damage your DNA and other important components within your body. Researchers at the Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and Seoul University in South Korea found that these phenolics may provide the bulk of the antioxidant power in apples, rather than the vitamin C. Other research from Cornell set out to rank the total phenolic content in many popular fruits. Apples came in second place behind the cranberries, and beat out other favorites such as the red grape, strawberry, pineapple, banana, peach lemon, orange, pear, and grapefruit. This study also found that apples have the second highest total antioxidant activity of these fruits, again beaten by the cranberry. If you take into account their tastiness, easy preparation time and versatility, apples are hard to beat as an easy way to get a quick dose of antioxidants. Getting to the Heart of the Matter The phytochemicals in apples may make them useful tools in warding off heart disease. A study that followed almost 40,000 women for about seven years associated apples with a 13% to 22% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Research in Finland has found that intake of flavonoids – a type of phenolics found in apples – was inversely associated with death from heart disease in women. Another study, involving more than 30,000 older Iowa women found that, consuming catechin and epicatechin – both flavonoids found in apples – was associated with a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease. Even though, many people favor the flesh, much of an apple’s healing power can be found in the skin, which ccontains large amounts – about 4 milligrams – of an antioxidant compound called quercetin. Like vitamin C and beta-carotene, quercetin can help prevent harmful oxygen molecules from damaging individual cells. Even in the healing world of antioxidants, quercetin is thought to be exceptional. Another Finnish study, this one following more than 10,000 men and women, found that the people who ate the most quercetin had a 20% lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease than those who ate the least. Cancer Protection A study involving more than 120,000 men and women found that women who ate at least one serving of apples daily had a lower risk of lung cancer. A Hawaiian study looked at the diet history of 582 people who had lung cancer and 582 without the disease found that the people who consumed the most apples and onions and white grapefruit had nearly half the risk of lung cancer than those who ate the least amounts of these foods. Effect of Apples on Lung Problems Apples may also help reduce your risk of asthma and improve your lung health. An Australian study involving 1,600 adults associated apple and pear consumption with a lower risk of asthma. And a study of more than 13,000 adults in the Netherlands found that those who consumed more apples and pears had a better lung function and less chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Apple Fiber for Digestive Health Apples are also a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. A 5-ounce apple including the skin has about 3 grams of fiber. Insoluble fiber, found in the skin, has long been recommended to relieve constipation. Studies show that a smoothly operating digestive tract can help prevent colon cancer. Also, insoluble fiber is filling which make apples an excellent weight control food for people who want to lose weight without feeling hungry. The soluble fiber in apples, which is the same kind that is found in oat bran, acts differently from the insoluble kind. In stead of passing through the digestive tract more or less unchanged, soluble fiber forms a gel-like material in the digestive tract that helps lower cholesterol and with it, the risk of heart disease and stroke. A particular form of soluble fiber called pectin is very helpful to reduce the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver. An average-seize apple contains 0.7 gram of pectin, more than the amount in strawberries and bananas. Indeed, it appears that having an apple or two a day really can help to keep the doctor away.