Research shows apples really do keep. the doctor away


Researchers Eric Gershwin and Carl Keen at the University of California, Davis, discovered a new way apples protect cells from the type of damage that leads to heart disease and age-related cancers.

The researchers found that the distinctive combination of nutrients in apples and apple products protect cells from destruction by fighting off damage caused by bodily intruders.

"It's almost like having a spam filter on your computer; the good e-mails get through and the bad e-mails get stopped", Gershwin said.

Here, the apple components we observed acted like the spam filter. Apple extract was able to protect cells from norlnally lethal damage by interfering with the pathway that would otherwise damage or kill cells, the study found. This damage could have led to an increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers without the assistance of apples and apple products.

The Fruit Growers News, July 2006

 Chemists: Red Delicious, Northern Spy, have most antioxidants
By Dick Llehnert, Assistant Editor

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, might a more powerful apple keep him away longer? And what is it about apples that repels doctors?

Those questions intrigued Rong Tsao, a researcher with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Guelph, Ontario, who led a team of researchers looking for answers.

They believe it's the antioxidants in apples that fight disease and contribute to health. And in tests so far, Red Delicious apples have scored the highest in levels of antioxidants.

But the final word isn't in. Tsao said only eight varieties were tested, out of hundreds out there, and those eight were chosen for one very practical reason; They all grew in Jason McCallum's orchard in nearby Woodstock, Ontario. Growing conditions were the same for all the test varieties.

In order of antioxidant levels, the varieties ranked:
Red Delicious (2,012), Northern Spy (1,548), Ida Red (1,479), Cortland (1,323), Golden Delicious (1,265), McIntosh (1,163), Mutsu (1,017) and Empire (782). The numbers are measures of total phenolic content in parts per million.

The report appeared in the June 29 issue o'the American Chemical Society's Journal 01 Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

This is the second major apple study these researchers have published. In the first, they identified the individual chemical compounds responsible for antioxidant activity in apples.

Tsao said the differences appear to be genetically based and plant breeders may be able to use the findings to develop apples that pack even more antioxidant punch.

Researchers have long known that apples are a good source of antioxidants, a group of chemicals that scavenge and neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells and tissues and appear to playa role in the onset of heart disease and prostate, colon and other cancers.

These defenses probably play the same role in apples, protecting them from disease, Tsao said. That is probably why levels are much higher in the skins, the protective layer, of all varieties.

Polyphenols are major sources of antioxidants in apples, and Tsao and his colleagues used three different labora¬tory measures to evaluate polyphenol activity.

The researchers found:

  • Polyphenollevels were five times higher in the skin than the flesh of the apples.
  • Two polyphenols, epicatechin and procyanidin B2, were the greatest contributors to total antioxidant activity of the apples. Procyanidins accounted for about 60 percent of the antioxidant activity.
  • Red Delicious apples had twice the antioxidant activity of Empire apples, which had the least activity of any of the apples studied.

"When taste and texture do not matter, choosing an apple with a high proportion of polyphenols in the flesh and skin can potentially produce more health benefits," Tsao said. "But eating any apple is better than eating no apple at all."

How do apples compare to other fruits? Dark-colored berries, like blueberries and blackberries, have higher levels of antioxidants, Tsao said. But people eat more apples, and they are easy to store and available fresh year round., July 20



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