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If you live on the anywhere in the northern US you know that apple season is here! Many varieties of apples are ready for harvesting.Farmers Market-112

Nutritionally speaking, apples are rich in flavonoids, a class of phytochemicals that act as antioxidants and protect the body against cancer. They are also rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants (Wood, R., 2010).  Quercitin, a major component of apple peels, has been associated with a decreased risk in type II diabetes in a number of nutritional studies (Boyer & Liu, 2004).

Why eat foods rich in antioxidants?

If you cut open an apple and leave it on the counter for an hour, you’ll see that it “ages;” it discolors and softens and becomes less appealing to eat. This browning process is called oxidation; it is akin to what takes place in your body when “free radicals” are allowed to multiply and travel liberally.

Free radicals are oxygen and nitrogen based molecules with unpaired electrons; they are produced by a number of metabolic processes in the body. Left on their own free radicals attack healthy cells trying to find an electron to make them complete. Antioxidants help to keep the peace – they prevent free radicals from destroying other cells by giving them a positive electron and neutralizing them  before they can harm other cells.

Studies have shown that a diet rich in antioxidants can help prevent cancer and chronic diseases, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma. (Boyer & Liu, 2004 and Hyson, 2011).

Fresh apples with the peels on contain the most phytochemical value.  Be certain to wash the skin thoroughly. When baking, don’t throw away the peels, use them in your dish to add fiber and phytonutrients.

References:

Boyer, J. and Liu R. H. (2004). Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition Journal 2004, 3:5. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-3-5

Hyson, D. A. (2011). A comprehensive review of apples and apple components and their relationship to human health. Advances in Nutrition 2(5): 408–420. doi: 10.3945/an.111.000513

Robinson, Jo (2013-06-04). Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (p. 229). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Wood, R. (2010). The new whole foods encyclopedia. Penguin Group: New York., NY.

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