All About Apples
Author : Staff Writer - Subject : Health
Lower blood cholesterol levels
Treat constipation and diarrhea
Help control diabetes
Strengthen immune system
May lower risk of heart disease
May help prevent cancer
We all know apples are supposed to be good for your health, yet it was only recently that researchers discovered their benefits.
The Pectin Connection
The answer lies in apples' storehouse of fiber and potent phytonutrients.
One medium unpeeled apple provides 3.5 grams of fiber, more than 10 percent of the daily fiber intake recommended by experts (without the peel it provides 2.7 grams). The insoluble fiber in apples works like bran fiber, attaching to cholesterol in the digestive tract and helping to sweep it out of the body, thus reducing the risk of clogged arteries, heart attack, and stroke.
But that's not all. Apples also contain a form of soluble fiber called pectin, which may help reduce the amount of natural cholesterol produced in the liver. Not only does pectin target cholesterol; it also specifically zooms in on LDL cholesterol, the kind that clogs arteries and keeps blood from reaching vital organs.
How much good can apples do your cholesterol level--and your heart? Researchers heave found that eating two apples a day can lower cholesterol levels by up to 16 percent. Another much-cited study showed that men who consumed an apple a day, along with two tablespoons of onion and four cups of tea, had a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who ate fewer apples.
Apple skin contains a large supply of a compound called quercetin, an antioxidant that may help prevent heart disease.
The antioxidants quercetin and vitamin C help prevent the free radical damage that can lead to cancer.
Apples also get some of their cancer-fighting power from pectin. Researchers believe that pectin may attach itself to environmental pollutants that make their way into the body-substances such as lead and mercury-and help flush them out. And the insoluble fiber in apples may help prevent diverticulosis and colon cancer. By relieving constipation (see below), fiber also helps flush out dangerous substances in stools that might otherwise lead to cancer.
The insoluble fiber in apples (a.k.a. roughage) helps relieve constipation, and as mentioned above, it thereby helps prevent colon cancer. At the same time, apples' soluble fiber helps treat diarrhea. (Some doctors prescribe the BRAT diet-bananas, rice, apples, and toast-as a diarrhea remedy. Natural health practitioners also recommend grating an apple, letting it turn brown, and mixing it with a little honey as a remedy for diarrhea.)
Traditionally, apples have been used to treat upset stomach. And with good reason: apples contain malic and tartaric acids, which help digestion.
Apples are most nutritious when eaten raw, though lightly cooked apples retain most of their nutrients. They are often treated with insecticides and coated with wax; scrub them before eating. But don't peel them; you'll lose a lot of their beneficial pectin and nutrients. If you're really worried about chemicals, buy organic apples.
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