Diet & Exercise: Apples shown to aid in cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s prevention

Published 5:19 pm Thursday, October 12, 2017

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 Sea and the Black Sea. Humans have enjoyed apples since at least 6500 BC.

There are more than 2,500 varieties grown in the U.S., but crab apples are the only ones native to America.

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This fruit is grown in all 50 United States, but is commercially grown in only 36. The world’s top apple producers are China, the United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy.

Some apple trees grow 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 and very beneficial to our health. In 2004, USDA scientists investigated 100 foods to measure their antioxidant concentration per serving size. Two apples, Red Delicious and Granny Smith, ranked 12th and 13th respectively. Antioxidants are disease-fighting compounds. Apples also contain Flavinoids, another family of nutrients that have antioxidant properties.

Apples are very nutrient rich. They contain vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and Riboflavin. The list also includes potassium, copper, manganese, and magnesium.

Apples are very good sources of dietary fiber. Just a single serving provides 12 percent of the daily fiber requirement.

Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavinol-rich apples could help reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 23 percent. Also, researchers at Cornell University have identified several components in apple peels that have anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. The National Cancer Institutes in the U.S. has recommended high fiber foods like apples (with their peel) to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Did you know that women who eat just one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes? Apple eaters are less likely to develop Metabolic Syndrome, a combination of at least three medical conditions, which include large waistline, 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. Also, the quercetin in apples can help boost and fortify your immune system.

Research has shown that folks who eat fruits like apples and other high-fiber foods gain some protection against Parkinson’s disease.

The soluble fiber found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels. The high fiber found in apples can even help you lose weight by helping you feel fuller.

To get the most nutrition, eat apples with their skin, because most of an apple’s nutrition is found in its skin or just under the skin.

A few apple cautions: Apple seeds are actually toxic. 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 in health food stores, like our own Nature’s Storehouse.

So there you have it … there are many good reasons for all of us to eat an apple every day.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at or text me at 864-494-6215. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years.