Another Reason To Eat Apples Daily: They Help Increase Muscle And Prevent Obesity and Diabetes
We know that eating an apple a day without removing the peel definitely keeps disease at bay. The key is to first grow your own apples since both conventional and organic apples found in grocery retailers are subject to high levels of pesticides and antibiotics. If you can't grow your own, find a local grower in your community who is vigilant about organic farming practices. Second, eat a minimum of two apples per day and never remove the peel. Canadian scientists have found that the fruit is more effective than other "superfoods" including green tea and blueberries as a source of antioxidants and chemical compounds called flavonoids that combat potentially life-threatening conditions.
Scientists also found that apples significantly lowered blood fat levels in postmenopausal women, the group most at risk of heart attacks and strokes.
In 2009, a Polish study revealed two apples a day also halved the risk of bowel cancer in adults.
The Power of Ursolic Acid
Ursolic acid - a waxy substance found in apple peel - increases muscle and brown fat. The substance is present in many plants including 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.
Mice given ursolic acid supplements burn more calories and have reduced obesity levels, pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease than the mice that do not receive the supplement. Researhers believe that this might be helpful in reducing obesity.
Until quite recently, researchers believed that only infants had brown fat, which then disappeared during childhood. However, improved imaging techniques have shown that adults do retain a very small amount of the substance mostly in the neck and between the shoulder blades. Some studies have linked increased levels of brown fat with lower levels of obesity and healthier levels of blood sugar and blood lipid, leading to the suggestion that brown fat may be helpful in preventing obesity and diabetes.
"From previous work, we knew that ursolic acid increases muscle mass and strength in healthy mice, which is important because it might suggest a potential therapy for muscle wasting," said Dr Christopher Adams from the University of Iowa.
"In this study, we tested ursolic acid in mice on a high-fat diet -- a mouse model of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Once again, ursolic acid increased skeletal muscle. Interestingly, it also reduced obesity, pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease.
"Considerable amounts of polyphenolic compounds, which contain phytochemicals high in antioxidants... can be isolated from freeze-dried apple waste," said the researchers, led by Dr Said Ajlouni from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
The peel was found to be up to six times more effective in inhibiting an enzyme called ACE, which is known to cause hypertension and high blood pressure, according to the team's results in the journal Food Chemistry.
A report published in March 2008 by the Organic Center at America’s Organic Trade Association argued that organic produce is 25 percent more nutritious than conventional foodstuffs.
Bernhard Watzl from the Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food in Karlsruhe stated "...organically produced apples displayed a higher phytochemical concentration and a higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples."
However, organic farmers in some parts of the world are allowed to spray apple and pear trees with antibiotics, in order to prevent a bacterial disease, and national organic standards permit this practice. So most important is to find an apple grower that only uses natural pesticides and no antibiotics in their apple farms.
Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.