Because of its exceptional qualities, an apple is an element that appears in many religious traditions, various national and ethnic folk legends or fairy tales where it was considered as divine food and the source of immortality.
Here are 4 things that make apples so great:
1. Vitamins and other antioxidants
Compared to many other fruits and vegetables, apples contain relatively low amounts of vitamin C, but are a rich source of other disease-fighting antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants are chemical substances that donate an electron to the free radical and convert it to a harmless molecule. They reduce or prevent oxidation, thus preventing cell and tissue damage from free radicals in the body.
While less than in most other fruits, apples are full of a natural fibre called pectin: a medium-sized apple contains about 4gr of fibre. Pectin is classed as a soluble, fermentable and viscous fibre, a combination that gives it a huge list of health benefits. The fibre helps regulate bowel movements and reduces cholesterol by preventing re-absorption.
“In vitro” apples contain a host of phytochemicals including bioflavonoids , polyphenols and triterpenoids and other phenolic compounds.
There are a number of different types of flavonoids with each having a protective health effect. Over 4,000 flavonoids have been documented to have antiviral, antiallergic, antiinflammatory, antitumor and antioxidant activities. Phytochemicals may help slow the aging process and reduce the risk of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cataracts, osteoporosis, and urinary tract infections.
The predominant phenolic phytochemicals in apples are quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2. Probably, because of flavonoids, especially – quercetin, the old saying about eating “an apple a day” has been associated with good health. It combats the destructive “free radical” molecules that play a part in many diseases. Quercetin is found only in the apple skin.
The average phenolic content of a 100g apple varies from 110 to 347mg and it is estimated that about 20% of all healthy fruit phenolics consumed in the United States comes from apples.
Phytochemicals are usually related to plant pigments: the more intense the color of a fruit or vegetable the greater the concentration of these compounds. For the apple, most of these colorful compounds are concentrated in the skin. The skin also contains more antioxidants and fiber than the flesh.
Tannins are substances that tan hides and make apples rust when exposed to the effects of the air. True tannins produce both tanning and puckering. The amount of tannin in an apple, especially in the skin, may differ not only from species to species, but also from tree to tree and even from year to year for the same tree. Research suggests tannins may help prevent periodontal or gum disease. The apple seeds are mildly poisonous, containing a small amount of amygdaline, a cyanogenic glycoside; it usually is not enough to be dangerous to humans.
Interesting Facts about Apples
- The apple is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely used by humans.
- Apple trees do not bear their first fruit until they are four or five years old.
- Archaeologists have evidence of people eating apples as far back as 6500 B.C.
- There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics.
- At least 55 million tons of apples were grown worldwide in 2005, with a value of about $10 billion. China produced more apples than any other country: about 35% of this total.
- Mature trees typically bear 40–200 kilograms (88–440lb) of apples each year, though productivity can be close to zero in poor years.
- Guinness World Records reports that the heaviest apple known weighed 1.849kg (4lb 1oz) and was grown in Hirosaki city, Japan in 2005.
- According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, there are about 300 Commercial Apple Growers in the province that occupy 15,412 acres (6,237ha) with marketed production of fresh apples of about 230,000,000lb per year (2006).
- The average person eats 65 apples per year.
- Apples float because 25% of their volume is air.
- One medium apple contains about 80 calories.
- The Adam’s apple has got its name because of a popular idea that it was created when the forbidden fruit got stuck in Adam’s throat when he swallowed it.
A WORD OF CAUTION: Remember, due to the commercial growing and storage, apples are among the most contaminated fruits. Try to buy organic apples.