May 19, 2012
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that polyphenols in certain fruits and vegetables decreases the risk of such chronic diseases as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Apples provide an especially rich source of disease-fighting polyphenols, and recent studies have linked the consumption of apples with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, asthma, and diabetes.
Much of the disease-stopping polyphenol power is found in the skin of the apple, which means that if you’re trying to limit carbs, you can still enjoy the health benefits of apples without exceeding your daily carb limit. One compound, ursolic acid found in the peel, affords powerful weight-loss benefits by promoting fat burning and by controlling blood glucose levels. PaleoPharm will shortly offer a highly purified and optimized ursolic acid nutraceutical product. Check back in The Store soon for product availability.
I strongly advise buying organic apples and scrubbing the skin with a fruit wash available online or in natural foods markets or as a do-it-yourself mix made with 2 cups water, 2 T. lemon juice, and 1/4 cup baking soda.
The amount of polyphenols (phenolics) varies significantly between different varieties of apples. Out of 10 varieties commonly consumed in the US, research has shown that Fuji apples posses the highest total phenolic and total flavonoid compounds. Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples are also quite high in these compounds. In the US, 22% of the phenolics consumed from fruits are from apples, making them the largest source of phenolics in our diet. Apples contain the highest portion of “free” phenolics when compared to other fruits. Free phenolics are not bound to other compounds in the fruits making them more available for absorption into the bloodstream.
A number of studies have linked apple consumption to a reduced risk of lung cancer. In the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study, which examined the diets of over 77,000 women and 47, 000 men, fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 21 percent reduced risk in lung cancer risk in women. Very few individual fruits examined had a significant effect on lung cancer risk in women, however apples were one of the fruits associated with a decreased risk of the disease. Women who consumed at least one serving per day of apples enjoyed a reduced risk of lung cancer. Surprisingly, researchers found no association between any individual fruit or vegetable and lung cancer risk in men.
In a Finnish study that looked at the diets of 10,000 men and women with a 24-year follow-up, researchers found a strong inverse association between flavonoid intake and lung cancer development, especially in younger people and non-smokers. Apples and onions together provided 64 percent of all flavonoid intake (mean flavonoid intake was 4.0 mg per day, with 95 percent of the total flavonoid intake coming from quercetin). Apples were the only fruits that were inversely related to lung cancer risk. Since apples are the main source of flavonoids in the Finnish population, researchers concluded that the flavonoids in apples were most likely responsible for the decreased risk in lung cancer.
Published studies have consistently shown a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease with apple consumption. The Women’s Health Study surveyed nearly 40,000 women with a 6.9-year follow-up and examined the association between flavonoid intake and cardiovascular disease. Study participants who ingested the highest amounts of flavonoids enjoyed a 35 percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular events. Both apple and broccoli intake were associated with reductions in the risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular events. Women ingesting apples enjoyed a 13–22 percent decrease in cardiovascular disease risk.
Another Finnish study examining flavonoid intake and coronary mortality found that total flavonoid intake was significantly inversely associated with coronary mortality in women only. Apple and onion intake was also inversely associated with coronary mortality, especially in women. Data collected from this same cohort study revealed that quercetin and apple intake reduced the risk of cerebrovascular disease. Those with the highest consumption of apples had a lower risk of thrombotic stroke compared to those who consumed the lowest amounts of apples.
Asthma And Lung Function
Studies have shown that apple consumption is inversely related to asthma as well as with general pulmonary health. A recent study involving 1600 adults in Australia found that apple intake was associated with a decreased risk of asthma and a decrease in bronchial hypersensitivity. Interestingly, total fruit and vegetable intake was not associated with asthma risk or severity.Previous research found that apple intake, as well as selenium intake, was associated with less asthma in adults in the United Kingdom.This diet and lifestyle study surveyed nearly 600 individuals with asthma and 900 individuals without asthma. Researchers found that total fruit and vegetable intake was weakly associated with asthma, but apple intake showed a stronger inverse relationship with asthma. This latter effect was most evident in individuals who consumed at least two apples per week. Onion, tea, and red wine consumption were not related to asthma incidence, suggesting an especially beneficial effect of apple flavonoids. Apple intake and orange intake were both associated with a reduced incidence of asthma in the Finnish study involving 10, 000 men and women. Flavonoid intake was associated with a lower risk of asthma, and researchers attributed the association primarily to the phytonutrients quercetin, hesperidin, and naringenin. Other fruits and vegetables, such as onions, grapefruit, and white cabbage were not associated with a decreased risk in asthma.
In a study of over 13,000 adults in the Netherlands, researchers found that apples might beneficially affect lung function. Apple and pear intake were associated with a reduced risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Catechin intake from apples (the second major source of non-tea dietary catechins) was also associated with pulmonary function and negatively associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Apple consumption has been shown to be associated with a lower risk for diabetes. In the previously discussed Finnish study of 10,000 people, researchers found a reduced risk of Type II diabetes with apple consumption. Higher quercetin intake (a major component of apple peels) was also associated with a decreased risk in type II diabetes.
☆ Disclaimer: This is my informed opinion. I could be wrong. What do you think?
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