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This commonly overlooked superfood protects the body from nuclear fallout, kills a wide range of cancers, and keeps the arteries unclogged -- to name but a few, experimentally confirmed ways in which the apple awakens your inner physician.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
This age old saying has never rang truer with greater promise and authority than it does today. As in the modern era, doctors bring with them a battery of tests, drugs, and interventions, all of which carry unintended, adverse health risks that often outweigh their purported benefits, and are therefore best avoided whenever possible.
While some might take this opening aphorism as mere folk medicine fantasy, the reality is that the medicinal properties of apple are well-documented within the biomedical literature.
For instance, apple consumption has been the subject of quite a few studies on colorectal cancer risk reduction. [i] [ii] [iii] Other cancers that apple constituents have been studied to kill in pre-clinical research include:
- Liver Cancer: apple juice, apple pectin and apple peel has been experimentally confirmed to kill liver cancer,[iv]
- Breast Cancer: apples have been found to both prevent and to suppress mammary cancers in the animal model.[v]
- Multi-Drug Resistant Cancer: carotenoids extracted from apple have been found to inhibit drug resistant cancer cell line proliferation.[vi]
- Esophageal Cancer: An apple-derived procyanidin has been found to suppress esophageal cancer. [vii]
- Stomach Cancer: One of the ways in which apple constituents prevent stomach cancer is through their inhibition of Helicobacter pylori, one of the main infectious agents linked to both ulcer and gastric cancer.[viii] But apple procyanidin has also been studied for its ability to directly induce programmed cell death within stomach cancer cells.[ix]
It is likely that many of the fundamental processes involved in cancer initiation and promotion are inhibited by apples and their constituents, and therefore apples may protect against far more cancers than referenced above. It appears that no matter what part of apple is studied, it has anti-tumor properties. Apple cider vinegar, for instance, has been found to contain an anti-tumor compound which results from the acetic acid fermentative process known as alpha-glycan.
Another proven way in which apples reduce the risk of cancer is through their ability to remove carcinogenic radioisotopes that have accumulated in our bodies as a result of the fallout from nuclear weapons, depleted uranium munitions, and nuclear energy and disaster-associated pollution, e.g. Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Post-Chernobyl, for instance, apple pectin was used to reduce Cesium-137 levels in exposed children, in some cases by over 60%.[x] From 1996 to 2007, a total of more than 160,000 "Chernobyl" children received pectin food additives. As a result, levels of Cs-137 in children's organs decreased after each course of pectin additives by an average of 30-40%.[xi] Significant reductions were noted in as short a time period as 16 days.[xii] Apple pectin has even been found to prevent the most deadly, and entirely man-made radioisotope, Plutonium-239, from absorbing in the gastrointestinal tract of animals fed it.[xiii]
We could, therefore, modernize our apple aphorism by saying "an apple a day keeps the nuclear fallout away." And truly, there are very few other substances, natural or synthetic, that have ever been found to protect against plutonium exposure. Apples, therefore, are truly super-foods in this respect.
Other noteworthy "evidence-based" medicinal properties of apple include:
- Diarrhea: Apple, in combination with chamomile, shortens the course of unspecific diarrhea in children.[xiv]
- Hardening of the Arteries (Atherosclerosis): Preclinical research indicates that apple contains compounds which prevent the formation of plaque within the arteries.[xv] One rabbit study, for instance, found that apple juice was capable of preventing the progression of atherosclerosis in a high cholesterol diet induced model of atherosclerosis.[xvi]
- Overweight: A human study found significant weight loss associated with a daily intake of three apples or three pears among overweight women.[xvii]
- Anti-Aging (Brain): Apples have been found to prevent oxidative damage and impaired maze performance,[xviii]as well as decreases in cognitive performance in aging mice.[xix] Also, a study performed on mice found that apple juice actually reduced the production of pathological amyloid-beta levels (associated with Alzheimer's disease) in the mouse brain.[xx]
- Bowel Inflammation: Preclinical research has found that apple procyanidins [xxi]reduces bowel inflammation.[xxii]
- Vaccine-Induced Toxicity: Many natural substances, including breast milk, have been found to decrease the synthetically-produced immune reaction associated with vaccines, and their adjuvants. Apple polyphenol counts among these, and has been found to prevent cholera toxin when used as an immune stimulant within vaccines from doing as much damage than it would otherwise do.
- Periodontal Disease: We all know the sensation that follows eating an apple – that astringent property, where our gums feel squeaky clean. This is due, in part, to quercetin, which is found in apples, tea and onions, for example. It bears significant antimicrobial properties.[xxiii] Apple polyphenol also protects against periodontal ligament cell destruction associated with Porphyromonas gingivalis, a pathogenic anaerobic bacteria, infection.[xxiv]
- Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs): AGEs are associated with the oxidation of blood sugars, primarily. These sugars becomes caramelized when exposed to oxidants, and then binds to cell structures, e.g. fats/proteins, causing damage. Apple leaves have been found to have significant anti-AGE activity, including the vasoconstriction associated with AGE-induced endothelial dysfunction.[xxv]
- Hair Loss: Remarkably, a procyanidin, labeled B-2, from apples promotes hair growth, in the cell model.[xxvi]
- Staphylococcal Infections: Apple pectin has been shown to inhibit synthesis of types A and B staphylococcal enterotoxins, which can cause profound bodily damage.[xxvii]
- Influenza Infection: Over 60 years ago researchers found that the complex carbohydrates that make up apple pectin inhibit the infectivity of influenza A virus in chicken blood, as well in embryonated eggs, indicating its potential anti-influenza properties.[xxviii]
The list of evidence-based therapeutic properties of apple is rather extensive. To view the full range of experimentally confirmed benefits view them here: Apple's Health Benefits.
Ultimately, this research on apples indicates how important whole foods are to our overall health. Apples are not medicine, rather, they are the means by which medicines become unnecessary. It is through authentic nourishment and detoxification – both functions which are provided to us through most fruits - that we prevent and treat disease (note: these statements likely will never be evaluated or approved by the FDA, because they are true). Also, fruit are archetypally beneficial foods for the human species; we have indexed over 300 experimentally confirmed health benefits of fruit on our database so far. Our evolutionary legacy (confirmed through modern genetic testing*) indicates that our pre-human ancestors lived in a jungle setting, where fruit would have been available year round.
This would, in fact, explain why we no longer synthesize vitamin c from glucose – we were so "spoiled" by the abundance of fruit available for so long that we gave up (via genetic mutation or atavism) our ability to provide it to ourselves. Plants and animals live in symbiosis. For the same reason that our lungs take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide (which is live-giving to plants), the fruits of these same plants provide a seed (which we help disperse), and a flesh to entice us to consume it. Fruit, therefore, is a food source that is as ancient as human origins itself. Could this be one reason why apples seem capable of these amazing feats of healing? Perhaps.
Next time you crunch into a crisp, fresh, organic apple, consider all that it has to offer, not theoretically, but viscerally. Experience the joy (the word fruit, etymologically, comes from the Latin word frui, meaning ENJOY), on a first hand basis. Also, if you have never done an apple mono-diet before, consider it. It is not so much a fruit fast, as a feast. Grab a bag of organic apples, and whenever you are hungry eat one. You will be surprised by how immediate you are satiated, and how cleansing and liberating on the body the exclusive consumption of such a simple, perfect food like the apple really is. One can easily go a day or two using this approach, often with the result of feeling completely renewed and refreshed.
*Note: It is a little known and under-appreciated fact that all humans are born with a serious, life-threatening genetic defect: namely, the inability to manufacture Vitamin C.
This defect occurred approximately 63 million years ago, when our haplorrhini ("simple nosed") primate predecessors lost the gene (Gulnolactone oxidase pseudogene – GULOP), responsible for the manufacture of Vitamin C from glucose.
The ability to synthesize Vitamin C, in fact, has been lost several times in vertebrates, e.g. in guinea pigs, some bats, some fishes, passeriform birds and in primates of the suborder Haplorrhini, which includes monkes, apes and humans.
- [i] Wieslaw Jedrychowski, Umberto Maugeri. An apple a day may hold colorectal cancer at bay: recent evidence from a case-control study. Rev Environ Health. 2009 Jan-Mar;24(1):59-74. PMID: 19476292
- [ii] Wieslaw Jedrychowski, Umberto Maugeri, Tadeusz Popiela, Jan Kulig, Elzbieta Sochacka-Tatara, Agnieszka Pac, Agata Sowa, Agnieszka Musial. Case-control study on beneficial effect of regular consumption of apples on colorectal cancer risk in a population with relatively low intake of fruits and vegetables. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2009 Mar;104(3):262-71. Epub 2009 Jan 20. PMID: 19926998
- [iii] H Deneo-Pellegrini, E De Stefani, A Ronco. Vegetables, fruits, and risk of colorectal cancer: a case-control study from Uruguay. Nutr Cancer. 1996;25(3):297-304. PMID: 8771572
- [vi] Péter Molnár, Masami Kawase, Kazue Satoh, Yoshitaka Sohara, Toru Tanaka, Satoru Tani, Hiroshi Sakagami, Hideki Nakashima, Noboru Motohashi, Nóra Gyémánt, Joseph Molnár. Biological activity of carotenoids in red paprika, Valencia orange and Golden delicious apple. Phytother Res. 2005 Aug;19(8):700-7. PMID: 16177974
- [vii] Roberto Pierini, Paul A Kroon, Sylvain Guyot, Kamal Ivory, Ian T Johnson, Nigel J Belshaw. Procyanidin effects on oesophageal adenocarcinoma cells strongly depend on flavan-3-ol degree of polymerization. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Dec;52(12):1399-407. PMID: 18683822
- [ix] Hiroshige Hibasami, Toshihiko Shohji, Ichirou Shibuya, Kazuko Higo, Tomomasa Kanda. Induction of apoptosis by three types of procyanidin isolated from apple (Rosaceae Malus pumila) in human stomach cancer KATO III cells. Int J Mol Med. 2004 Jun;13(6):795-9. PMID: 15138614
- [x] V B Nesterenko, A V Nesterenko, V I Babenko, T V Yerkovich, I V Babenko. Reducing the 137Cs-load in the organism of "Chernobyl" children with apple-pectin. Swiss Med Wkly. 2004 Jan 10;134(1-2):24-7. PMID: 14745664
- [xi] Vassily B Nesterenko, Alexey V Nesterenko. 13. Decorporation of Chernobyl radionuclides. Phytother Res. 2009 Apr;23(4):564-71. PMID: 20002057
- [xii] G S Bandazhevskaya, V B Nesterenko, V I Babenko, T V Yerkovich, Y I Bandazhevsky. Relationship between caesium (137Cs) load, cardiovascular symptoms, and source of food in 'Chernobyl' children -- preliminary observations after intake of oral apple pectin. Swiss Med Wkly. 2004 Dec 18;134(49-50):725-9. PMID: 15635491
- [xiii] V S Kalistratova, G A Zalikin, P G Nisimov, I B Romanova. [Study of the effect of a food additive Medetopect on metabolic kinetics of transuranic radionuclides in animal body]. Radiats Biol Radioecol. 1998 Jan-Feb;38(1):35-41. PMID: 9606404
- [xiv] Brigitta Becker, Ulrike Kuhn, Bettina Hardewig-Budny. Double-blind, randomized evaluation of clinical efficacy and tolerability of an apple pectin-chamomile extract in children with unspecific diarrhea. Arzneimittelforschung. 2006;56(6):387-93. PMID: 16889120
- [xvi] Mahbubeh Setorki, Sedighe Asgary, Akram Eidi, Ali Haeri Rohani, Nafiseh Esmaeil. Effects of apple juice on risk factors of lipid profile, inflammation and coagulation, endothelial markers and atherosclerotic lesions in high cholesterolemic rabbits. Lipids Health Dis. 2009;8:39. Epub 2009 Oct 5. PMID: 19804641
- [xvii] Maria Conceição de Oliveira, Rosely Sichieri, Anibal Sanchez Moura. Weight loss associated with a daily intake of three apples or three pears among overweight women. Nutrition. 2003 Mar;19(3):253-6. PMID: 12620529
- [xviii] Flaubert Tchantchou, Amy Chan, Lydia Kifle, Daniela Ortiz, Thomas B Shea. Apple juice concentrate prevents oxidative damage and impaired maze performance in aged mice. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2009 Jul-Sep;21(3):148-61. PMID: 16340085
- [xix] [No authors listed]. Apple juice concentrate maintains acetylcholine levels following dietary compromise. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Aug;9(3):287-91. PMID: 16914839
- [xx] Amy Chan, Thomas B Shea. Dietary supplementation with apple juice decreases endogenous amyloid-beta levels in murine brain. Int J Mol Med. 2010 Oct;26(4):447-55. PMID: 19158432
- [xxi] Naoto Yoshino, Kohtaro Fujihashi, Yukari Hagiwara, Hiroyuki Kanno, Kiyomi Takahashi, Ryoki Kobayashi, Noriyuki Inaba, Masatoshi Noda, Shigehiro Sato . Co-administration of cholera toxin and apple polyphenol extract as a novel and safe mucosal adjuvant strategy. Vaccine. 2009 Jul 30;27(35):4808-17. Epub 2009 Jun 17. PMID: 19539583
- [xxiii] F Geoghegan, R W K Wong, A B M Rabie. Inhibitory effect of quercetin on periodontal pathogens in vitro. Phytother Res. 2009 Dec 2. Epub 2009 Dec 2. PMID: 19957242
- [xxiv] Hiroaki Inaba, Motoyuki Tagashira, Tomomasa Kanda, Takashi Ohno, Shinji Kawai, Atsuo Amano. Apple- and hop-polyphenols protect periodontal ligament cells stimulated with enamel matrix derivative from Porphyromonas gingivalis. J Periodontol. 2005 Dec;76(12):2223-9. PMID: 16332233
- [xxv] Thomas Dugé de Bernonville, Sylvain Guyot, Jean-Pierre Paulin, Matthieu Gaucher, Laurent Loufrani, Daniel Henrion, Séverine Derbré, David Guilet, Pascal Richomme, James F Dat, Marie-Noëlle Brisset . Dihydrochalcones: Implication in resistance to oxidative stress and bioactivities against advanced glycation end-products and vasoconstriction. Phytochemistry. 2009 Dec 18. Epub 2009 Dec 18. PMID: 20022617
- [xxvi] A Kamimura, T Takahashi. Procyanidin B-2, extracted from apples, promotes hair growth: a laboratory study. Sci Total Environ. 2010 Feb 13. Epub 2010 Feb 13. PMID: 11841365
- [xxvii] F S Fluer, D D Men'shikov, E B Lazareva, V Ia Prokhorov, A V Vesnin. [Influence of various pectins on production of staphylococcal enterotoxins types A and B]. Zh Mikrobiol Epidemiol Immunobiol. 2007 Nov-Dec(6):11-6. PMID: 18277535
- [xxviii] R H Green, D W Woolley. INHIBITION BY CERTAIN POLYSACCHARIDES OF HEMAGGLUTINATION AND OF MULTIPLICATION OF INFLUENZA VIRUS. J Exp Med. 1947 Jun 30;86(1):55-64. PMID: 19871655