Apple (Malus Domestica)
Superfoods Technical Fact Sheet
Apple (Malus Domestica)
Parts used: Fruit
Originating in the mineral-rich mountains of Kazakhstan, apples are now cultivated globally, and are a member of the Rosaceae family.
Packed in phytonutrients, apples have long been known for their health-giving properties. They contain an impressive list of antioxidants, flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds and are rich in dietary fibre. The principle ones found are:
Flavonoids: Quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin
Anthocyanins (red-skinned apples)
Phenolic acids: Chlorogenic acid
Pholirdizin – found in apple seeds
As well as several dozen other polyphenol nutrients, including tartaric acid, which gives a tart flavour to apples, so the more tart the apple the higher the levels of tartaric acid. In fact, there would appear to be a unique balance of phytonutrients in apples .
In addition to the phytonutrients apples also contain good levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, as well as being a good source for the B vitamins B2, B3 and B6, which have many important functions in the body.
Although not a good source of minerals, apples also contain some potassium, phosphorus and calcium.
Apples are good source of fibre, much of which is in the beneficial form of soluble fibre, in particular the fat-lowering fibre called pectin, which seems to combine with other nutrients in apples to help lower blood fats.
Intake of apples has also been shown to significantly increase two of the beneficial strains of bacteria found in the colon, with improvements on bowel function – colstridiales and bacteriodes. These studies were carried out on laboratory animals and further studies are being carried out to confirm these findings on humans.
Per 100 mg
Calcium 6 mg
Iron 0.12 mg
Magnesium 15 mg
Phosphorus 11 mg
Potassium 107 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Zinc 0.4 mg
Copper 0.027 mg
Manganese 0.035 mg
Fluoride 303 µg
Vitamin C 4.6 mg
B1 0.017 mg
B2 0.026 mg
B3 0.091 mg
B6 0.041 mg
Pantothenic Acid 0.61 mg
Folic acid 3 µg
Choline 3.4 mg
Vitamin A 54 iu
Vitamin E 0.18 mg
Vitamin K 2.2 µg
Beta carotene 27 µg
Cryptoxanthin 11 µg
Lutein & Zeaxanthin 29 µg
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database
Research in this area has focused on two areas: the water-soluble fibre pectin in apples, and the unusual mix of polyphenols found in apples.
Regular intake of apples (around one whole apple a day) has been shown to improve both total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol. In addition, the high antioxidant levels of apples helps prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, as well as the oxidation or lipid peroxidation of fats such as triglycerides in the bloodstream which in turn then triggers a series of processes which result in the build-up of plaques in the arteries – one of the major causes of heart disease. Pectin is also thought to play a part in this process. 
Recent research has also shown that the anti-inflammatory benefits of the quercetin content of apples also provides protection for the cardiovascular system. Research continues to look into other aspects of benefit. The recent Iowa Women’s Health Study, for example, tracked over 34,000 women for nearly two decades and found a clear link between apple consumption and a lowered risk of heart disease. Research has also been done in Finland with 9,208 people over 28 years which found those with frequent apple consumption had a lowered risk of stroke.
Blood Sugar Benefits
This is a relatively new area of research, but studies are showing that intake of apples has a measurable effect on the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms which are implicated in both heart disease and diabetes. Those who reported eating an apple within the previous 24 hr were found to have a 27% lower chance of having these symptoms, including lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, which is a blood marker for inflammation. 
The soluble fibre in apples is also thought to play a part in helping keep blood sugar stable, as this gives apples a low glycaemic load making them a good food choice for diabetics.  Also the wide range of polyphenols found in apples impact on digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.  Amongst the various mechanisms found are:
- The slowing down of carbohydrate digestion
- Reduction of glucose absorption
- Pancreatic stimulation to produce more insulin
- Stimulation of insulin receptors to increase sensitivity
All of these add up to better blood sugar control.
Having 1 or more apples a day has been shown to lower the risk of Type II Diabetes by 28%. 
The large number of polyphenols has led to research into the anticancer properties of apples, as antioxidants are known to be protective. Several different types of cancer have been studied, including breast and colon cancer, but it is in the area of lung cancer that results seems to be particularly outstanding. Many studies have shown that apples, almost alone out of other fruit and vegetables, seem to have a protective effect against lung cancer. Although researchers are unsure as to exactly why there is this particular affinity between apples and lung cancer, it is clear they have a beneficial effect. 
One of the reasons apples may be beneficial against cancer is that they have good levels of both chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, both of which have been found to block cancer formation in laboratory animals.
In an Italian study people eating one or more apples a day were shown to have an overall reduced risk of cancer – particularly of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, larynx and colon/rectum. 
Apples have been proven to have anti-viral benefits, with research finding that those who eat apples regularly tend to get fewer incidences of colds, flu and upper respiratory tract ailments. 
Preliminary studies suggest there are health benefit from apples with age-related macular degeneration. 
Multiple studies have shown a surprising benefit from eating apples with a decrease in asthma attacks. The exact mechanism for this is not known but is thought to be linked to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of the polyphenolic compounds in apples.  Even eating apples during pregnancy has suggested it might protect the baby from developing asthma to a significant degree. 
Once again it is the polyphenolic compounds which are thought to protect the brain from degeneration from oxidative stress and give a protective effect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons, according to studies from Cornell University food scientists. Other studies have borne this out. 
Research at Pennsylvania State University found that those who ate an apple 15 minutes before a meal consumed 15% less calories. Another study showed that those who ate apples 3 times a day had significant weight loss compared to those who didn’t over a 12-week period. 
Apples are reportedly beneficial for binding radioactive residues and helping to excrete them from the body. The soluble fibre and pectin have a chelating effect, and so they are beneficial for anyone exposed to radiation. They are also thought to be helpful for removing heavy metals from the body, although neither of these uses has been tested scientifically.
Historic and Traditional Uses
It is thought that the modern domesticated apple came from wild ancestors from Central Asia originally, and is probably the earliest tree to be cultivated.
Its fruits appear in the Bible story of Adam and Eve, they appear in both Norse and Greek mythology and Alexander the Great is credited with bringing dwarfed rooting stock back to Macedonia in 328 BC. It is thought the Romans brought apples to the Britain with their conquest.
Fresh and dried apples have been eaten since the Stone Age, and there is evidence they were popular with the Egyptians as far back as 12thcentury BC. Apple cultivation has spread to most temperate regions of the world, and there are now over 7,000 varieties of apple.
Dried apple was a staple food for our ancestors to help get them through the winter months, or they were stored in frost proof cellars to ensure a supply of fruit until Spring.
‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ attests to the fact that our ancestors were well aware of the health benefits of apples. Traditional herbal medicine used ripe, uncooked apples to relieve constipation, and the stewed fruit has been used to help diarrhea and gastroenteritis. They were also considered effective in all conditions of ‘gout, acidosis, rheumatism, jaundice, all liver and gallbladder troubles, nervous and skin diseases caused by sluggish liver, hyper-acidity and states of autointoxication.’
The bark was used as a decoction for intermittent and bilious fevers as well as a lymphatic and spleen tonic, and apples leaves, which contain a natural antibiotic called phloretin, were crushed and used on wounds. Apple bark tea was used for both stomach ache and heartburn as well as reducing fevers.
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