Apple Health Benefits Could Rival Fish

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Apples could become the next fish when it comes to boosting health. Omega 3 fatty acids are known for their health benefits. Vegetarians, environmentalists and consumers are warned about mercury and PCB’s in fish. Krill oil consumption could deplete other marine mammals of their food supply. Consider the health benefits of apples that can rival fish.

Apples could curb cancer
In March 2005 Cornell University scientists discovered that phytochemicals in apples could help prevent breast cancer, found in a mouse study. Study author Rui Hai Lui concluded eating apples “may be an effective strategy for cancer protection” Studies also suggest that apples can thwart lung, prostate, pancreatic and other digestive cancers.

Quercitin found in apples might even prevent lung damage in smokers, found by UCLA researchers and published May 2008. Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang, a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and a professor of public health and epidemiology. “The findings were especially interesting because tobacco smoking is the major risk factor for lung cancer. The naturally occurring chemicals may be working to reduce the damage caused by smoking.”

Apple juice could prevent Alzheimer’s disease
The health benefits of apples also extend to the brain. A study underwritten by the apple industry found that mice with Alzheimer’s disease and even normal mice experienced memory improvement from receiving apple juice concentrate in their water. Two to 3 glasses of apple juice a day should be enough and it’s important to combine apples with an otherwise balanced diet.

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Professor Thomas Shea who conducted the study starting in 2002 says mice that drank too much apple juice “became bloated and lethargic”, negating the positive effects of apple juice for boosting memory.

Heart Health
Pectin in apples and other fruit may play a key role in lowering bad cholesterol, shown in several observational studies. Apples are also high in soluble fiber. The American Heart Association recommends soluble and insoluble fiber intake daily as part of a heart healthy diet. Apple pulp is a soluble and apple skin is an insoluble fiber. The Apple Association also published a study May 2008 suggesting that apple juice antioxidants might prevent atherosclerosis, found in a rodent study and published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. Additional benefits include reducing the chances of metabolic syndrome that leads to diabetes and heart disease, reported by the U.S. Apple Association.

Apples keep infection at bay
This year, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign published findings that soluble fiber increased production of the anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-4. The amount of soluble fiber needed to keep infection at bay – for instance from eating apples – is obtainable and not pharmaceutical. For the study researchers used citrus based pectin.

Apples are not a panacea
According to Gregory Freund, a professor in the University of Illinois’ College of Medicine and a faculty member in the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences' Division of Nutritional Sciences, “It's possible that supplementing a high-fat diet with soluble fiber could reduce the negative effects of a high fat diet, “even delaying the onset of diabetes." Apples are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, making them an especially appealing addition to the diet.

Apples are not a panacea that can fight disease, but they do have a wide array of potential health benefits. It’s important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Added to a balanced, nutritious and heart healthy diet, apples might rival fish for their health benefits.

ACS Publications: Apples and Breast Cancer
UCLA Newsroom: Lung Cancer and Fruits
American Heart Association: Cholesterol and Fiber
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