By Maoshing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., Ph.D.
The beginning of autumn means that we’re entering apple season, which will be a time of cider, desserts, and the crisp, wholesome goodness of the fruit freshly picked from your local orchard. Apples have been a staple of healthy eating for many years, and the often-repeated line of an apple a day keeping the doctor away is far from a myth. Apples really do have a wonderful variety of nutritional benefits, and are a tasty addition to any diet of good health and longevity.
Of all of the fruits we eat, apples are the best source of pectin, a natural fiber that has several health benefits. Apples also contain phytochemicals, quercetin, tannins, and antioxidants, all of which have different healthy properties. Below is a list of the top five benefits of making apples a standard part of your daily diet.
1. Apples improve the bowels. Pectin is a source of dietary fiber and a very handy nutrient to have in one’s diet. While it is also found in citrus fruits, plums, and other fruits, apples have the highest concentration of them all. Pectin works to increase the stool’s volume and resistance of fluids and is therefore helpful in treating constipation, diarrhea, and generally improving the health of the bowels. Studies have also found that apple pectin reduces the incidence of colon tumors, and that has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
2. Apples lower cholesterol. A study on nutrition and heart disease found that eating three apples a day for three months can help you to drop your cholesterol by at least 20 points. How does this happen? Apple pectin, that miraculous source of dietary fiber, helps to draw bad LDL cholesterol out of the system. Not only that, but the antioxidant quercetin that is found in apples inhibits the LDL cholesterol from even accumulating in the body’s bloodstream. When it comes to lowering one’s cholesterol, apples provide a cocktail of nutritional benefits that are hard to pass up.
3. Apples reduce the risk of cancer. Apples do not stop at merely preventing colon cancer. The high amounts of quercetin, other flavonoids, and phytochemicals found in this fruit deliver potent antioxidant activity to all who eat an apple, and with that inhibit the actions of free radicals. In addition, the phytochemicals may act against carcinogens, which will likewise help to prevent cancer. This means that apple eating prevents cancer of the prostate and lung, as well as other parts of the body.
[Whether cholesterol is really the source of illness is now being reconsidered. See Thincs for a long list of Medical Doctors and Researchers who are “cholesterol skeptics.” – Daniel]
4. Apples slow the aging process. There may have been many generations of explorers that sought the fountain of youth, but all they had to do was fight the daily stresses of life with a tasty apple! The phytochemicals that come from the bright colors you find in the skins of your favorite apple variety, along with aiding the apple’s ability to lower cholesterol and fight cancer, also inhibits the onset of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other conditions that lead to potentially debilitating situations in old age.
5. Apples help to prevent hair loss. If keeping a full head of hair will help you to age more gracefully, then chow down on some apples. Chinese medicine considers hair loss to be a sign of a depleted kidney essence, and apples are on the list of fruits and vegetables that will help you to restore this essence and nourish the blood that flows to your hair follicles.
I hope you eat your apples, and that you really do keep the doctors away. As always, I encourage you to share your own favorite longevity foods and other tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Maoshing Ni, L.AC., D.O.M., PH.D., DIPL. C.H., DIPL. ABAAP
Dr. Mao is a Licensed Acupuncturist, a Diplomat of Chinese Herbology and a Diplomat in Anti-Aging. He is currently in general practice with special interest in immune, hormonal and aging related conditions. He was awarded the Outstanding Acupuncturist of the Year Award in 1987. Dr. Mao along with Dr. Dao, his brother and father, founded Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Santa Monica, California. He is currently director and a professor of Chinese medicine at Yo San University. Dr. Mao is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, the AOM ALLIANCE, American Society of Acupuncturist, the American Association of Acupuncturist & Oriental Medicine and National certification Commission for Acupuncturist & Oriental Medicine Diplomat in Chinese Herbology.