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Can an Apple a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?

By Steve Edwards

AppleIt's funny how much merit folklore, old wives' tales, and clichés can turn out to have under scientific scrutiny. Now, numerous studies are confirming one of the more common adages of our time: an apple a day can, indeed, keep the doctor away.

A Canadian study in 2005 concluded that apples are extremely high in antioxidants. When your body lacks vital antioxidants, your immune system becomes overworked, your energy and stamina decline, and free radical damage begins to occur, which can lead to illness. Find out about how to boost your antioxidant levels by clicking here.

What makes apples so a-peeling?

Apple PeelResearch has shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduces the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other chronic diseases. A new study just concluded that apples also have very high cancer-fighting properties. The study, published in May of this year, states that apples may be a standout in the antioxidant crowd. The researchers identified a group of phytochemicals that proved to be potent against at least three different types of human cancer cells: breast, colon, and liver.

Both of these studies confirmed that the peel was the most vital part of the fruit. Traditionally, apple peels had been considered healthy because of their fiber content—the peel contains about 75 percent of an apple's total dietary fiber. The 2007 study screened a group of phytochemicals with powerful anticancer effects. The results showed that apple peels had far more potent antioxidant activity and anti-cell proliferation properties against human cancer cells than did the apple flesh.

How do you like them apples?

Apple TreeApples have lower concentrations of antioxidants than some other fruits, particularly many berries, but researchers believe that their year-round availability and greater popularity make them an ideal source of antioxidants for the masses. Older studies have also linked apple consumption to a reduced risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and strokes.

Apple EatingResearchers say they're just beginning to understand exactly which compounds found in fruits and vegetables are responsible for these healthy benefits. Much of the recent research has focused on the anticancer properties of a group of phytochemicals known as phenolics, which are typically found in the seeds and skins of fruits and vegetables. There is still a lot to learn about what makes fruits and veggies such an essential part of our diet (you can read here for the fruits and veggies that are among "The Best Food on the Planet").

Regardless of the unknowns, we can still conclude that when it comes to keeping the doctor away, not much beats an apple a day.

Sources
J. Agric. Food Chem., 53 (12). 4989-4995, 2005. 10.1021/jf048289h S0021-8561(04)08289-5. Web Release Date: May 14, 2005.; Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Vol. 55, No. 11, May 30, 2007: 4366-4370.; ScienceDaily.com, American Chemical Society, May 22, 2007.

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