An apple a day...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016. Author Tyler Breedlove

This week we have another recipe you are sure to use at your holiday dinner! It’s called “Apple and Quinoa Crumble.” If you haven’t checked it out yet, it is highly recommended that you do. Start salivating and click the link here.

Now, for this week’s ingredient review, we have a lot of wonderful options to choose from. Why don’t we look at one you probably eat often, but most likely know very little about? That’s right. It’s time to ask yourself, what do you really know about apples?

Apples: Unknown origins

There’s nothing better than biting into a nice, crisp apple. Today, you can walk into any grocery store and probably have more options of apples than you know what to do with. With so many species of apples, one must wonder, where did apples originate?

The origin of the apple (or wild apple) appears to be unknown. Many believe that the domesticated apples we eat today originate from the wild apples found in Central Asia, long before humans began to occupy the area. Generally, it has been theorized that between 5,000 to 8,000 years ago, apples began to spread due to human migration patterns. From Central Asia, apples moved into modern day Europe. As technology advanced and migration increased, apples travelled around the world and have become one of humanities most popular foods. Today, the domesticated apple is found in the family Rosaceae and of the genus Malus. Additionally, there are around 55 species for you to enjoy. So many choices!

Healthy bites

Growing up, most of us probably heard our grandmothers say, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” This was most likely just our grandmother’s simple way of trying to get us to eat healthy foods, but let’s expand on that. Do apples provide any great health benefits?

  • Several studies suggest apple consumption may result in a decreased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
  • Apples hold a high amount of anti-oxidant activity, related to their high flavonoid content and polyphenols. Studies on this aspect suggest favorable changes in lipid profiles, improvements in blood glucose regulation and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Apple consumption has been associated with lowered risk of asthma and other pulmonary disorders, particularly in lowering the presence of the symptoms such as wheezing. These impacts could be through the antioxidant content found in apples or some unexplored nutrient.
  • Apples typically contain a low-energy density and adequate fiber content. In research, they have been shown to be effective additions to weight loss diets.

 The breakdown

On average, 1 medium apple contains between 90 – 100 calories. This makes the macronutrient content come out to around 25 grams of carbohydrates, 4.5 grams of fiber, 0.5 grams of protein and 0.3 grams of fat. They are a great source of Vitamin C, while also containing small amounts of various other vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Calcium, Potassium and Folate to name a few. The amounts will vary according to the type of apple consumed.

When adding apples to your diet, consume them fresh and whole. Nutrients found in apples are predominantly in the skin, making it a very important part of the fruit. If you are trying to add apples to your diet in other ways and wish to utilize “apple juice,” you will want to drink the juice as fresh as possible. Additionally, pay attention to the liquid in the juice, as the “cloudier” juices will be healthier as they will come from more nutrient dense varieties of apples. Clearer juices tend to come from “dessert type” apples and will contain lower amounts of an apple’s healthy compounds.

Generally speaking, eating the apple whole will be the ideal route for consumption. Whole food sources are going to be a much better source of vitamins and minerals than processed or supplemental sources. This may be especially important with regard to anti-oxidative activities. A 2000 study found that 100 grams of apple contains the same anti-oxidative capacities as 1,500 mg of Vitamin C!

The genetics

Now, understanding your genetics can play a key role in knowing if and how you would benefit from the consumption of apples. This becomes very relevant when we look at certain genes.

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References

Apples. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=15#nutritionalprofile

Boyer, J. and Liu, R.H., 2004. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition journal, 3(1), p.1.

Eberhardt, M. V., Lee, C. Y., & Liu, R. H. (2000). Nutrition: antioxidant activity of fresh apples. Nature405(6789), 903-904.

Harris, S. A., Robinson, J. P., & Juniper, B. E. (2002). Genetic clues to the origin of the apple. TRENDS in Genetics, 18(8), 426-430.

Hyson, D. A. (2011). A comprehensive review of apples and apple components and their relationship to human health. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 2(5), 408-420.

Lee, K.W., Kim, Y.J., Kim, D.O., Lee, H.J. and Lee, C.Y., 2003. Major phenolics in apple and their contribution to the total antioxidant capacity. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 51(22), pp.6516-6520.

Pajk, T., Rezar, V., Levart, A. and Salobir, J., 2006. Efficiency of apples, strawberries, and tomatoes for reduction of oxidative stress in pigs as a model for humans. Nutrition, 22(4), pp.376-384.

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