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Preventive Maintenance: An Apple a Day Keeps Dr. Away

It's true: an apple a day can keep the doctor away! Hidden inside that shiny apple peel is a bundle of nutrition.

It’s true: an apple a day can keep the doctor away! Hidden inside that shiny apple peel is a bundle of nutrition.

This season enjoy our great variety of apples, a delicious flavour for every taste. Pre-wrapped in a protective skin, they don’t need much care or preparation. From breakfast to bedtime, choose apples. What could be easier?

Or healthier? Each medium apple holds five grams of fibre, more than most grain products, as well as pectin, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals, all without fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium. Two-thirds of a medium-sized apple provides the total antioxidant activity of 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C.

Apples keep your body healthy in many ways. Apples are good for your brain. The nutrients in apples and apple juice help you remember and learn.

They may also protect you from age-related brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Research has found that adding apples and apple juice to your diet may compensate for a genetic predisposition for these conditions.

Whole apples (as opposed to just the juice) are great for dieters. They suppress appetite without robbing the body of necessary nutrients. Apples make your feel fuller faster.

They are also excellent for diabetics and anyone who wants to control blood sugar levels.

Even though the apple is a rich source of natural sugar, they also control blood sugar levels.

For some reason, apples do not cause a rapid, often dangerous rise in blood sugar, so your body doesn’t pump out too much insulin (no damaging sugar highs and lows.)

Apples are great for your bowels because they’re full of pectin fibre.

One apple has 20 per cent of the daily fibre recommendation, which helps digestion and weight loss.

A medium apple contains about five grams of fiber, more than most cereals, making them a delicious snack and dessert that’s good for you. But don’t peel your apple before you eat it.

The peel holds two-thirds of the pectin fibre that gives apples the amazing ability to lower cholesterol or blood pressure, balance blood sugar content and fight off cancer.

Apples are unique because they can control two opposite digestive complaints: constipation and diarrhea. Apples and applesauce have been used effectively for centuries to help people get back on a regular diet after suffering from of diarrhea.

The pectin in the apple fibre apparently is the healing factor (and is included in one of the popular over-the-counter diarrhea remedies.) This is the same fiber necessary to prevent constipation.

Apple flavinoids (a type of anti-oxidant) also help your body fight cancer. In recent studies, it’s been noted that regular apple eating drastically lowers your risk of some cancers.

A 2001 study at the Mayo Clinic showed that quercetin (a flavonoid abundant in apples) helps prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Another study at the Cornell University indicated that phytochemicals (a chemical compound found in fruits and vegetables that acts as an anti-oxidant) found in the skin of an apple stopped colon and liver cancer cells from reproducing by up to 43 per cent.

The National Cancer Institute agrees. They report that foods containing flavonoids like those found in apples can reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 50 per cent!

Yes, apple flavinoids help keep your lungs healthy, too. Two recent studies showed that the lungs of people who eat at least five apples per week work better.

Not only do these people have a lower risk of respiratory disease, but apples were singled out as a fruit that could cut smokers’ risk of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) in half.

Eating apples can even improve the breathing capacity of people with asthma and chronic cough. More research indicates that people who ate the most apples were 46 per cent less likely to get lung cancer.

Apple flavinoids are also good for your heart. They may prevent heart disease and stroke. Researchers at the University of California-Davis recently reported that apples and apple juice may help protect arteries from harmful plaque build-up.

In this study, adults who added two apples, or 12 ounces of 100 per cent apple juice to their daily diet significantly slowed the cholesterol oxidation process that leads to plaque build-up in their arteries.

So, apples can help lower your blood pressure and dangerously high cholesterol levels as well. They also help clean your teeth!

– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

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