Apples, eating them really can keep doctors awayPublished 9:48pm Thursday, September 19, 2013
This time of year, with its shorter days and cooler nights, signals the arrival of apple season.
Here are a few interesting facts about apples you might not know. Apples are actually a member of the rose family, and the apple tree originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Seas. There are more than 2,500 varieties grown in the U.S., but crabapples are the only ones actually native to North America.
Humans have been enjoying apples since at least 6500 B.C. This fruit is grown in all 50 United States, but is only commercially grown in 36. The world’s top apple producers are China, United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy. Some apple trees grow more than 40 feet high and live more than 100 years. It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce just one apple. And yes, believe it or not; one of George Washington’s hobbies was pruning his apple trees.
Apples are truly delicious, but did you know they are really a super-food? That’s right; apples are a great source of vitamins A, C and flavonoids (plant pigments which protect the body from cell-damaging free radicals). They contain 5 grams of soluble fiber, which keeps the intestinal tract healthy, and helps control insulin levels by releasing sugars slowly into the bloodstream. Pectin (another type of soluble fiber), found in apples, keeps the intestinal tract clean, promotes beneficial bacterial growth and helps lower cholesterol levels by slowing insulin secretion.
One apple has 50-80 calories and no fat or sodium. Studies show those who eat apples had lowered levels of C-reactive protein, a marker that suggests an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. Also, apple eaters are less likely to suffer Metabolic Syndrome, a combination of at least three medical conditions, which include large waist line, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Metabolic syndrome too, increases risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Apples contain the antioxidant quercetin, which increases the body’s endurance by making oxygen more available. To get the most nutrition, eat apples with their skin, because much of an apple’s nutrients are found in its skin or just under the skin.
A few apple cautions: Most non-organic apples are heavily pesticide contaminated and waxed. Choose organic, but if you can’t, wash with warm or cool (never hot or ice cold) water, using food-safe cleaners that can be found at health-food stores and markets. Also apple seeds are very toxic when eaten, especially by pregnant or breast-feeding women and children.
Diet or exercise question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit fitness4yourlife.org. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 27 years.
He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girl’s gymnastic team, and the Converse College equestrian team. He served as a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps., lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.