Apples on My Mind

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

We are all familiar with the old adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away. And while apples on my mindthe apple was a suggested culprit in Biblical lore since Adam and Eve, it eventually was assigned to more positive legends, like proving marksmanship for William Tell or supporting the theory of gravity for Sir Isaac Newton.

Supposedly, the early Norse believed the golden apple was food for the gods, and a main dish for eternal life. But is it possible that it ye old apple may truly have been the world’s first health food?
 
Apples are rich in dihydroxyflavone, a flavonoid found in many vegetables as well. And now, researchers at Emory University have discovered that the compound mimics the action of brain derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. In fact, Emory researchers are so impressed with the neuroprotective effects of the apple’s dihydroxyflavone that they’re looking for ways to concentrate it. 

If their efforts are successful, the apple may become a template, if you will, for a new class of brain-protecting drugs.

I've known that apples are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that can stabilize your blood sugar as well as reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Apples are also full of polyphenols, vitamin C, and quercitin—an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory compound that bolsters your immune system.

The only hitch is that some folks are allergic to polyphenols. Let’s face it, food allergies are real and many of us don’t think to look to our diet when we feel “off” or having symptoms. 

How would you know if you’re allergic to polyphenols? Warning signs include headache, an increase in heart rate, or a slight cough when you eat lot of apples (or chocolate for that matter, which is also rich in polyphenols). Over time, you may see other signs of food allergy, such as skin rashes. 

So, let’s see. Apples help support good cholesterol levels, help balance blood sugar levels, boost immunity, and now support brain health. Now that’s another heart-brain connection that’s a “no-brainer!”

With the abundance of apple varieties at our stores as well as recipes for cooking them up, apples make a great daily diet staple. For more information, visit www.usapple.org and www.appleproducts.org.

 

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