All About Apples Health Benefits Nutrition Facts And History

October 21, 2019

Often referred to as “miracle foods” and “nutritional powerhouses,” an apple a day really may keep the doctor away, as they are one of the healthiest foods a person can eat. These round, juicy fruits are high in fiber and vitamin C, and they’re also low in calories, with only trace amounts of sodium and no fat or cholesterol.

“Apples are high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants,” says Laura Flores, a nutritionist in San Diego.” These polyphenols are found in both the skin and the flesh of apples, so to get the most benefit, eat the skin.”

All of these benefits mean that apples can reduce the effects of asthma and Alzheimer’s disease, while helping with weight management, bone health, lung function and gastrointestinal protection.

Here are nutrition facts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labeling through the National Labeling and Education Act.

Health Benefits
Apples are high in vitamin C, especially in the skin, which also contains a lot of fiber, Flores said. Apples contain insoluble fiber, which is a type of fiber that doesn’t absorb water. According to Medline Plus, it provides volume in the intestines and helps food pass through the digestive system quickly.

In addition to the insoluble fiber that aids in digestion, apples also have soluble fiber such as pectin. This nutrient helps prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessels, which in turn helps prevent hardening of the arteries and heart disease. In a 2011 study, women who ate about 75 grams (2.6 ounces, or about one-third of a cup) of dried apples a day for six months had a 23 percent drop in bad LDL cholesterol, says study researcher Bahram H. Arjmandi, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the University of Florida. In addition, the women’s good HDL cholesterol levels increased by about 4 percent, according to the study.

When it comes to polyphenols and antioxidants, Flores explained that they “work in the lining of cells to reduce oxidation leading to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. “A 2017 article published in Trends in Food Science and Technology added that people with hypertension or at risk for hypertension may also have lower blood pressure, which also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. In a study of more than 38,000 women, a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, which can also lead to cardiovascular disease, was found, also due to certain polyphenols and the high fiber content of apples.

Eating apples may also be good for the respiratory system.” The antioxidant benefits of apples may help reduce the risk of asthma,” Flores told Live Science.A 2017 study published in the journal Nutrients suggests that antioxidants in various fruits and vegetables, including apples, may reduce the risk of asthma by helping to control the release of free radicals from inflammatory cells in the airways and oxygen-rich blood from the heart.

Health Risks
“Eating apples in excess doesn’t cause many side effects,” says Flores.” But as with anything you eat in excess, apples can lead to weight gain.”

In addition, apples are acidic and the juice may damage tooth enamel, and a 2011 study published in the Journal of Dentistry found that eating apples can be four times more damaging to teeth than carbonated drinks.

However, lead researcher David Bartlett, head of prosthodontics at the Institute of Dental Research at King’s College London, said: “It’s not just a question of what we eat, it’s a question of how we eat it.” Many people eat apples very slowly, which increases the likelihood that acids will damage tooth enamel.

“Snacking on acidic foods throughout the day can do the most damage to your teeth, whereas it’s much safer to eat them at mealtime,” Bartlett said in a statement from King’s College.” An apple a day is good, but taking an entire day to eat an apple can damage your teeth.”

Dentists recommend chopping the apple and chewing it with your back teeth. They also recommend rinsing the mouth with water to help wash away acids and sugars.

Apples and Pesticides.
“Most apples have pesticides on them, unless they’re certified organic,” Flores said.In 2018, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental and human health organization, concluded that 98 percent of conventional apples have pesticide residue on their skins. However, the organization also said that “the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.”

According to the Colorado State University Extension Service, washing apples well helps remove pesticides.” Washing apples and making sure you wipe your skin in some way will do the trick,” said Flores.” You can use your hands or a fruit washer to do this.” Chemical rinses and other treatments are not recommended for washing fresh produce, however, because the Food and Drug Administration has not yet evaluated the safety and effectiveness of these products.

Some researchers say there’s no need to worry about pesticides. Dr. Diane Hazen, a research nutritionist at the University of California, Davis, writes that lab tests show very low levels of pesticide residues on apple skins.

Are apple seeds toxic?
Apple seeds, also known as apple peels, contain a chemical called amygdalin, which releases cyanide, a highly toxic substance, when it comes into contact with digestive enzymes. The whole seed passes through your digestive system relatively unscathed, but if you chew the seed, you may be exposed to the toxin. One or two won’t be harmful because the body can handle small doses of cyanide, but if you or a child chews and swallows a large number of seeds, you should seek medical attention immediately.

How many seeds are harmful to humans? According to food science consultant John Frye, about 1 milligram of cyanide per kilogram of body weight will kill an adult. Apple seeds contain about 700 milligrams (0.02 ounces) of cyanide per kilogram, so about 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of apple seeds would be enough to kill a 70-kilogram (154-pound) adult. However, one apple seed weighs 0.7 grams (0.02 ounces), so you’d have to chew 143 seeds to get that amount of cyanide. Apples usually have about 8 dots, so you would have to eat 18 apple seeds in one sitting to get the lethal dose.

History and facts about apples
The apple originated in the mountains of present-day Kazakhstan. According to Cornell University, the trees grew up to 60 feet tall and produced fruit that was between the size of a marble and a softball, in colors such as red, green, yellow and purple. According to the University of Illinois Extension Service, apples have been eaten since at least 6500 BC.

Various trade routes passed through these trees, and the apples were likely picked by hungry traders who then discarded the seeds along the way, likely taking them with them to other destinations for planting. These seeds naturally interbred with other local species, giving rise to thousands of different types of apple trees throughout Europe and Asia. These seeds eventually spread to other continents and countries, including North America and New Zealand.

The first apples grown in North America were planted by European settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Newton Pippin apples were the first apples to be exported from the colony when they were sent to Benjamin Franklin in London. Today, nearly 25 percent of the apples grown in the United States are exported around the world.

More interesting facts about apples from the University of Illinois Extension Service.

There are 7,500 varieties of apples grown around the world and 2,500 varieties in the United States.
The world’s leading producers of apples are China, the United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy.
Apples are grown in all 50 states. As of 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 60% of apples produced in the U.S. are grown in Washington State, 13% in New York, 6% in Michigan, 5% in Pennsylvania, 3% in California, and 2% in Virginia.
The first apple nursery was opened in Flushing, New York, in 1730.
The science of apple growing is known as pomology.
Apples are members of the rose family, Rosaceae.