BETTER THAN THAT, YOU’RE THE APPLE JUICE OF MY EYE
Did you know?
…The original birthplace of the tiny, wild apple was in the mountains of Kazakhstan many years ago (shout out to Borat!).
…The apple has been part of the human diet for tens of thousands of years.
… Today apples are grown in every state in the U.S.
AND THAT MAKES APPLE JUICE “AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE”!
That phrase of endearment speaks to both American ingenuity and the fact that apples have been part of our country since before we were even a country when Johnny Appleseed became an early- and real-life American legend. More on Johnny in a moment but, for now, let me fill you in on the arrival of the first apple on the shores of America.
Apples were first cultivated at Jamestown by settlers in the 17th century who brought their cuttings across the Atlantic — but not for eating. These early apples were tart and small. In fact, the first American apple was very different than what we might use to bribe a teacher today, or even than the rosy red variety of Snow White’s shiny temptations. In rough-hewn Colonial society, apples provided a critical commodity for the early settlers: cider.
Henry David Thoreau, of Walden fame, said he favored the wild apple to those found in local Massachusetts’ orchards. Wild apples (which you can still find and taste a bit like crabapples) are quite tart, and Thoreau admitted that their “spirited bite” could sometimes be “sour enough to set a squirrel’s teeth on edge and make a jay scream.”
WHO IS JOHNNY APPLESEED?
Nearly a century before Thoreau hung out on Walden Pond, and 30 miles to the west of him, a man named John Chapman of Leominster was waxing evangelical about apples. Now a folk hero for collecting apple seeds by the bushel at cider mills up and down the Susquehanna River Valley, the man who came to be known as Johnny Appleseed toted his seeds out West and planted them across the country eventually scattering his treasure in the rich soils of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.
Today, “Johnny Appleseed” is famous for the nurseries he established across the Midwest. And, amazingly, some of those nurseries still exist!
A LESSON IN GENETICS
As apples trees require grafting to properly proliferate themselves and fruit abundantly, if you were to plant a seed from that awesome apple you ate, or one that we just juiced for you, you probably wouldn’t actually get the kind of apple that you just ate. Because of the nature of genetics-sharing that happens with grafting and cross-pollination across many generations, you can germinate almost any variety of apple in the plant DNA memory of that random seed. Think of it as breeding Yorkshire terriers and getting a wolf pup in the litter.
AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS THE KIDNEY STONES AWAY
According to Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) texts, apple pectin binds stool, is good for ulcers, promotes healing of damaged membranes, and detoxifies the gall bladder and kidneys. Lest there be any doubt, scientists corroborated this information in studies conducted in 2009.
In the process, they discovered that the peel has many benefits, as it is full of antioxidants like catechin, procyanidins, chlorogenic acid and phlorizin. These powerful antioxidants halt the growth of liver cancer and colon cancer. They are also very high in calcium and potassium.
All that goodness leads to this recommendation. Keep the peel on – juice it all!
As apples continue to be a frequent subject of dietary study, research continues to support their health benefits. Whether you’re looking to address diabetes, asthma, heart disease, stroke, cancer, purify the liver, or are suffering from constipation, apples are a superfood.
And here’s some of the biochemistry behind all that goodness. They are rich in vitamin C and phytochemicals, so they definitely deserve to be called “nutritional powerhouses”. Research has proven that apples increase total antioxidant activity in the body by 64%!
In a 2006 study, quercetin, one of the most abundant antioxidants found in apples, is one of only two compounds known to reduce cellular death and inflammation in the brain. So, apples are helpful in preventing brain diseases due to their unique antioxidant properties that suppress neurotoxic mediators found in Alzheimer’s.
AH, BUT ARE GREEN APPLES REALLY HEALTHIER?
Studies show, overall, the health benefit differences between green and red apples are negligible. However, for people who want to reduce their carb and sugar intake, green apples (e.g., Granny Smiths) come out on top because they have a lower fructose content; it is that lower fructose content that makes them taste more bitter. Green apples also bear a bit more taste resemblance to their ancient forebearers.
The old Welsh proverb is true, then: An apple a day really can keep the doctor away.
Are you looking for a way to get more apples in your life? Join me at my juice bar and have an apple-inclusive juice blend (seasonal fruits vary) every day!
HERE’S WHERE YOU CAN HELP, DEAR READER . . . BECOME A HEALTH DETECTIVE
For two years, I’ve scoured the internet seeking sources that can back up the health and benefit claims of fruits, vegetables, and supplements (sometimes called “boost”).
In the chart below are the health claims I and others have discovered about apples. Where you see a footnote, you’ll find a link to the source. If there is not a footnote, the specific health claim has been made, but neither I nor anyone I know has been able to locate sources of research or credible anecdotes to back up the claim.
So, if you are aware of a direct source of research or anecdotes to back up the claims, please post them in the comments. I’ll check them out and if they meet our standards, I’ll make sure that they’re included in the next edition of the blog and give you a shout-out!
Reported Health Benefit Claims of Apples:
Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Helps with constipation
Lowers blood sugar levels
Improves immune system
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28238909 Wang S, Li Q, Zang Y, et al. Apple polysaccharide inhibits microbial dysbiosis and chronic inflammation and modulates gut permeability in HFD-fed rats. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, Volume 99, June 2017, pages 282-292.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4443546/ Consumption of apples is associated with a better diet quality and reduced risk of obesity in children: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2010
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26016654 Apples and cardiovascular health–is the gut microbiota a core consideration? — Koutsos A, Tuohy KM, and Lovegrove JA. Apples and cardiovascular health–is the gut microbiota a core consideration? Nutrients. 2015 May 26;7(6):3959-98.
- A study involving 9,208 men and women showed that those who ate the most apples over a 28-year period had the lowest risk for stroke. Researchers concluded the intake of apples is related to a decreased risk of thrombotic stroke. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10822289