An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

By: Horticulture Australia

A new CSIRO report has revealed the growing body of scientific evidence to support the adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away!"

Released this month, The 2010 Apple Report shows that a regular apple habit may reduce the risk of diabetes and lower cholesterol - a key risk factor for heart disease. Emerging research in the Report also reveals the potential of apples to reduce the risk of asthma, manage allergies and help lose dangerous belly fat.

The CSIRO report is based on a review of 10 years of research. It was commissioned by Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) and reviewed by Associate Professor Manny Noakes, CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences and author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet. Assoc. Prof. Manny Noakes said science supporting the health benefits of apple components called polyphenols continued to grow with exciting new research beginning to reveal the true potential of apples.

Cutting cholesterol
"There is good evidence that eating apple polyphenols (equivalent to three apples a day) may lower cholesterol. Apples may also have a possible role in reducing the risk of type II diabetes, with studies showing women who eat an apple a day having a 28% reduced risk of this condition," Assoc. Prof. Noakes said. "This could be a directly related to the apple's low GI and effects on reducing appetite which could help keeping weight in check. It could also be that eating apples is a marker of a generally healthier diet too. What's particularly exciting is emerging research that apple polyphenols may have the potential to help to reduce belly fat and affect hormones involved in regulating metabolism. This is particularly important given the high incidence of obesity and the additional health risks for people ironically dubbed 'apple shaped', with high belly fat linked to an increased risk of heart disease, type II diabetes and hypertension."

Whilst still very preliminary, emerging science in The 2010 Apple Report suggests potential for a reduced risk of asthma in children whose mothers ate apples during the pregnancy, and consuming apple polyphenols - in portions equivalent to eating an apple a day - may alleviate some symptoms of respiratory allergies, such as nasal discharge and sneezing.

While there's increasing science to support the adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", for 100 year-old Edna Spurway - great granddaughter of apple legend "Granny Smith"-living by this proverb has been the secret to her longevity. "What's my secret? Well, it must be good genes and lots of apples, of course," Edna said. Accredited practising dietitian and spokesperson for Aussie Apples, Karen Kingham says "We always knew apples were good for us and Edna was potentially living proof. In reviewing the latest scientific research, we have continued to discover just what a great food the apple is -although I think Edna's always known this," says Karen.

In addition to important vitamins and minerals, Karen explains there is something unique to the power of apple polyphenols, that may explain their apparent health benefits. "When it comes to apples, it's actually the apple peel that contains the highest level of polyphenols and antioxidant activity, so to get the greatest health benefit people need to make sure they eat the whole apple."

Interestingly, studies have also shown keeping apples in the fridge, not the fruit bowl, is the best way to maintain the high antioxidant levels in the fruit.

Apple Facts

  • Eating whole apples can help control hunger by helping you feel fuller for longer. Eating an apple just before a meal may reduce appetite and cut overall kilojoules intake at that meal by 15 per cent - the equivalent to reducing your portion size by almost one sixth. Eating apples as a snack also has valuable satiety benefits that may help with weight reduction

  • A study of more than 38,000 women, for nine years, showed those who ate an apple a day had a significant reduction (28%) in the risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who ate no apples.

  • Studies have shown apple polyphenols may help alleviate some of the symptoms of respiratory allergies, such as sneezing. Patients suffering persistent allergic rhinitis have shown significant improvements in sneezing attacks and nasal discharge after consuming apple polyphenols - the equivalent to eating an apple a day.


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