Candy Apple Red

Behold, the apple. An ancient fruit, the apple has held an honored place in the culinary history of humans for thousands of years.

For the ancients, the natural sweetness and crunch provided by apples was a combination that was nearly too good to be true. Through time, apples have represented health, vitality, fertility, and beauty. The Romans regarded apples so highly that they created a goddess to watch over them. In fact, the term “paradise” is derived from a Persian practice of growing fruit, primarily apples, in walled orchards.

Even millennia ago, however, humans were not content to leave a good thing alone. The practice of budding and grafting apples arose long before the time when expanding trade routes eventually ended isolated genetic diversity and brought together a score or more of the world’s top varieties. This confluence resulted in an explosion of new cultivars at the fancy of humankind—and sparked a debate over genetic meddling that has yet to be resolved today.

One aspect of apples that people have agreed upon, though, is that health follows consumption. Centuries old writings go far beyond “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Consuming apples before bed was recommended for easing constipation, while eating an apple with a meal was said to calm an irritable stomach. Various preparations of apples have also helped to staunch diarrhea, inflammation, and fever. Overall consumption of apples has long been associated with healthy aging.

In the modern era, these traditional cures and home remedies are being borne out by science, and the little understood mechanisms of these actions are being revealed.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association examines the relationship between the color of fruits and vegetables and the incidence of stroke. More than 20,000 participants were followed for 10 years. Findings associated high consumption of  white-fleshed fruits and vegetables with a 52-percent reduction in stroke risk. Specifically, for every intake of 25 grams per day, white fruits and vegetables reduced stroke risk by 9 percent. Apples and pears were the primary foods consumed by these healthy participants.

A 2004 review of clinical studies published by Nutrition Journal reported that the phytochemicals in apples are associated with reducing risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes; promoting pulmonary health; aiding weight loss; inhibiting lipid oxidation; and promoting healthy cholesterol ratios.

In short, show us an apple, and we’ll show you a core aspect of healthy eating. Enjoy!