An Apple a Day

We’ve all heard the old bromide, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples may not cure everything, but they’re full of valuable nutrients. Naturopaths consider them one of the perfect foods. Besides, they taste great. Let’s take a look at this amazing fruit.

Apples contain plenty of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and iron along with other trace elements. Their high pectin content helps maintain regularity. Because of their low glycemic index, they are considered by most doctors to be okay for diabetics. Apples have a diuretic effect, which along with all that potassium means they’re good for controlling high blood pressure. Mashed apple is a great first food for babies. It stops diarrhea and vomiting. Old books on herbal medicine call for a tart apple with some honey or sugar boiled in half a pint of water to bring down a fever. It’s no wonder apples are called “the king of fruits”.

Like many of the foods and herbs we’ve explored, apples have polyphenols and flavonoids, antioxidant compounds which help to strengthen the immune system and may help with allergies, heart problems and possibly even cancer, although scientists are still unconvinced and a great deal of further study is necessary. The flavonoids in apples can also stop menstrual cramps and help start a delayed period. Phloridzin, a rare flavonoid found in apples, was the subject of a French study which found that it might help with bone loss due to osteoporosis. Phloridzin is also supposed to be good for the cardio-vascular system.

Another important flavonoid, quercetin, is found in abundance in apples. Quercetin is a known anti-inflammatory and blood pressure reducer. There is some evidence that quercetin can reduce the risk of getting cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. It has also been advertised as a cancer cure and preventative, but there is little or no hard evidence yet. Some other studies indicate that quercetin might be effective in increasing exercise tolerance, by helping the body to produce more mitochondria.

A 2007 British study found that apples may help to prevent or reduce the symptoms of asthma. Children who drank apple juice at least once a day had fewer asthma attacks than those who drank another fruit juice or something else. The leader of the study said that the anti-inflammatory properties of the flavonoids and phenols in apples might be responsible. Again, further tests are needed, but it looks very promising.

There are hundreds of kinds of apples, each with its own unique flavor. If you have high acidity, choose a sweet apple. If you want apple juice, don’t buy commercial brands. Look for an organic apple farm in your area where you can pick your own and juice them yourself. Drink a glass of apple juice an hour before meals. If you want to use apples for regularity, eat one right before bedtime.

An apple poultice can be made to dry up skin infections and sores. Use an apple that is slightly overripe, pared and cored. Slice it into thin sections, fry lightly in olive oil or butter, then put it between two cloths and put it on the affected area.

Natural health practitioners often recommend apple cider vinegar as a blood purifier and general cure-all. There is some evidence that it lowers high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Not everyone can drink apple cider vinegar because of the high acid content. It is supposed to cure UTIs, but can actually cause them, especially in children. Check with your doctor first.

Apple tree bark and leaves also have medicinal properties. The tea is both astringent and antiseptic and can be used as a mouthwash and put on insect bites and minor injuries.

One of the best ways to enjoy apples is to bake them. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Core six apples. Melt a half cup of butter, mix with two or three tablespoons of brown sugar and coat the apples with this. Mix powdered cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, raisins and/or dates and fill the centers of the apples. Bake for about 45 minutes. Nut cream is good with this. Apples retain much of their nutritional value even after baking. They will lose some vitamin C.

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