Monday, May 20, 2013

Apples - "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Everyone knows that old saying but just how healthy are apples?

An ingredient found in apple peels has been found by a team of researchers to help prevent muscle weakening in mice.

Muscle weakening often occurs in humans as a result of illness and aging. But so far, it has not been well understood nor has a medicine existed for it. Ursolic acid, also known as pent acyclic triterpene acid, is present in plants that include apples, basil, bilberries, cranberries, elder flower, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, oregano, thyme, hawthorn, and prunes.

Apple peels contain large quantities of ursolic acid and related compounds. Ursolic acid commonly is used in cosmetics and is capable of inhibiting various types of cancer cells.

Animals given ursolic acid became leaner and had lower blood levels of glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. The findings therefore suggest that ursolic acid may be responsible for some of the overall benefits of healthy eating.

Americans eat lots of apples, and the food industry produces a lot of applesauce. However, many people are unaware that most of the health benefits are found in the skin, or apple peel. Apple peels are chock-full of special phytonutrients, like phloridzin and phloretin xylogucoside, that give apples their unique and potent antioxidant and anti inflammatory qualities.

Apple polyphenols also can help prevent spikes in blood sugar through a variety of mechanisms.

Flavonoids such as quercetin found in apples can inhibit enzymes, like alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. Since these enzymes are involved in the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, the blood sugar in our bodies has fewer simple sugars to deal with when these enzymes are inhibited.

The polyphenols in apples have been shown to lessen absorption of glucose from the digestive tract, stimulate the beta cells of the pancreas to secrete insulin, and increase uptake of glucose from the blood via simulation of insulin receptors. All of these mechanisms can make it easier to  regulate blood sugar.
It is hard to grow trully organic apples in the US because there are so many pests. Just be sure to thoroughly clean your apples before eating them. I like to put a small amount of peanut butter on slices for a healthy mid-day snack.

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