The apple was first cultivated in Egypt and has been around since the Iron Age. The word itself is a derivation of the Old English word aeppel.
Why should I be aware of this?
Apples have always been regarded as an important fruit as they store well for several months, especially in cooler climates. Unlike many other fruits they do not lose their nutritive value when stored for a long time.
Apples have many uses and can be used to make cider, pies and jams. They were used extensively by early settlers. Apples were also often cored and dried and then stored for later use.
All about Apples
There are several references to the fruit in mythology, the most famous of them being the apple that Eve was tempted to eat in the Garden of Eden. Apple trees have been known to live for hundreds of years.
Early settlers brought the apple seed with them and introduced apples to America. Records show evidence of apples being grown as early as 1630. A man who became known as Johhny Appleseed (actually John Chapman) planted apples trees extensively in the western part of the United States.
Apple trees can range in size from 6 to 30 feet in height, depending on the variety and type of rootstock
When eaten fresh, apples make a refreshing and crisp snack. They also make excellent mouth fresheners owing to their acid content. Apples taste uniquely sweet and tart at the same time.
- Apples have powerful diuretic powers, assisting in washing build-up fluids and toxins from the body.
- Apples are naturally low in calories and compliment many fatty foods such as peanut butter and cheese, creating a healthy balance. Apples have also been shown in studies to be beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels.
- Apples are a good source of fiber with about 2.6 grams per cup. A small apple contains about 2.5 grams of fiber, a medium apple contains about 3.3 grams of fiber, and a large apple packs a whopping 5.1 grams of fiber.
- Apples prevent ageing by reducing bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
Always pick fruit that is firm and free of bruises. Apples should be stored in a dark cupboard with plenty of air circulation. To slow down the ripening process apples can be stored in the refrigerator. However, they should be stored unwashed.
Bruised apples should be consumed as soon as possible and they should not be stored with other apples. Apples should not be stored with leafy green vegetables as the gas produced by the apples can spoil the greens. Apples that are stored for too long lose their crisp fresh taste.
Peeling or slicing an apple causes it to release polyphenoloxidase, an enzyme that causes the fruit to darken. Apples should be peeled or cut just before they are to be used. Since acid inactivates polyphenoloxidase, dipping apples in a solution made with lemon juice and water slows down the darkening process. Storing them in the refrigerator also slows down the browning.
Cooking and eating
Apples are delicious when cooked too. They are the main ingredient in many pies, crumbles, tarts and cakes. Apples are often pureed as well as made into jams and jellies. They can be baked, stewed and even dried and then soaked in alcohol or fruit juice.
Apples are also used to make juice, cider and vinegar.
There are many varieties of apples and the varieties that are good for cooking include Cortland, Rome, Northern Spy, Granny Smith, Rhode Island Greening and McIntosh. The sweet varieties, which make for delicious eating, include Gala, York Imperial, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious.
The pectin that is contained in apples is a natural antidiarrheal. Grated apple is often recommended as a remedy for diarrhea.
Folklore also has it that the local application of apple cider vinegar cures hemorrhoids.
Cosmetic Uses of Apple Cider
Apple cider vinegar can be used to promote healthier skin and hair. Some of the ways to use apple cider vinegar are:
- Hair rinse: Hair rinsed with apple cider vinegar becomes it soft and shiny. Apple cider mixed with water can be used as a final rinse after shampooing for soft shiny hair.
- Stains: Apple cider vinegar dabbed on fruit and vegetable stains on the hands cause the stains to disappear.
- Tired feet: Rubbing apple cider vinegar on tired or swollen feet has a soothing effect.
- Facial: Applying apple cider vinegar on your face before bed makes the skin softer and also gets rid of blemishes.
- Sunburn: To remove the effects of sunburn adding some apple cider vinegar to the bath water and allowing the body to soak ion it gives tremendous relief.
- Skin burns: Chilled apple cider vinegar applied to burns prevents blistering.
- Dandruff: Appling undiluted apple cider vinegar to the scalp helps to control dandruff. Leave on the scalp for a while and then shampoo as usual.
Apple and health
Studies show that as the old adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is actually true. Apples are rich in pectin which can reduce cholesterol. A Finnish study showed that people who eat a diet rich in flavonoids (which are abundant in apples) have a lower incidence of heart disease. Flavonoids are believed to prevent strokes. A study at University of California-Davis suggests that the consumption of apple juice may help prevent plaque build up in the arteries.
Research has also shown that a high intake of apples in the diet can reduce the chances of lung [cancer] by as much as 46 percent. Apples are believed to reduce smokers’ risk of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) to half. The soluble fiber contained in apples helps to regulate blood sugar in diabetics preventing a sudden change in the sugar levels. The fiber content can also improve bowel function and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Apples contain phenols, which have a double effect on cholesterol. It reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. They prevent LDL cholesterol from turning into oxidized LDL, a very dangerous form of bad cholesterol which can be deadly.
Apples also prevent tooth decay. The juice of the apples has properties that can kill up to 80% of bacteria.
Eating apples can also aid in weight loss as apples are a source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber aids digestion and helps weight loss. Apples have almost no fat and cholesterol. They are also bulky for their caloric content. Apple cider vinegar speeds up metabolism of the body when taken before meals and helps to keep weight under control.
Apples may also protect the brain from the damaging effects of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s. The consumption of apple juice may protect against cell damage.
90 degrees -- What we do not know yet
An Australian research suggests that eating apples and pears could help protect against asthma, which is becoming a major health hazard, especially for children. The study showed that the participants who ate apples and pears had the lowest risk of asthma.
Ayurvedic physicians prescribe the use of apple cider vinegar in combination with a herb known as Gotu Kola to revitalize the skin. Apple cider vinegar and honey has been consumed by Indians for many years as an aid to digestion. Apple cider vingar helps to break down food and also prevents harmful bacteria from multiplying.
Apple cider, when combined with centella, is believed to reduce the pain caused in the joints due to arthritis.
- An apple is said to be more effective in snapping one to life in the morning rather than that traditional cup of morning tea or coffee.
- Fresh apples float on water since 25% of their volume is air.
- Apples are high in fiber. One apple has 5 grams of fiber, supplying about 20% of the daily recommended dietary needs.
- Apples are best eaten with the peel since most of the fiber and antioxidants are found in the apple's peel.
- Apple seeds are like human. Each seed will give a different type of apple from the planted seed.
- The apple fruit itself is covered with a natural layer of wax to protect its high water content. Hence, fresh apples are always crisp.
- Apples are a member of the rose family!
- Apples are available year-round.
- Apples are ripe when picked.
- There are more than 7,000 varieties of apples grown in the world.
- Americans eat an average of 18 pounds of fresh apples each year.
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