Apples: Health Food or Poison?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011 08:08 AM

An apple a day may well keep the doctor away, but the fruit also has a dark side. Apples are one of the top sources of pesticides in our diets, according to an analysis of 87,000 tests of common fruits and vegetables, performed by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration during a seven-year period.
The analysis of all this data, by the non-profit Environmental Working Group, resulted in a ranking of worst-to-best foods in terms of pesticide load. Apples, with up to nine pesticides on a single apple and a variety of 50 different pesticides overall, came in second-worst following peaches.
In practical terms, if apples are one of your staples, they are a significant source of pesticides in your diet, unless you’re eating organic ones. If you don’t eat apples (pie, turnovers, and toaster pastries don’t count), you’re missing an opportunity to do your body a lot of good, assuming you skip the toxins.

The Pesticide Situation
For many years, scientists have known that toxins in pesticides damage the nervous system, increase risk for cancer and disrupt hormones, accelerating the aging process and contributing to weight gain and other health conditions.
However, there is an argument that our exposure through food is “low dose,” and therefore safe. According to this theory, because people don’t keel over and die or get visibly sick from eating a pesticide-laden fruit or vegetable, pesticides aren’t a problem. But no one really knows the low-dose effect over the longer term.
In 1996, Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act, which directs the Environmental Protection Agency to set up a program to screen chemical pesticides and other environmental contaminants for their potential effects on hormones.
The initial set-up of this program, the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, has taken more than a decade. Last October, the EPA began ordering tests of some pesticide chemicals and in time, more contaminants will be tested.
So, what do we do in the meantime? For anyone who doesn’t want to be a human guinea pig, eating organic apples is a sensible option.

Apple Benefits
Studies show that people who regularly eat apples have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, trimmer waistlines, a sharper mind, less risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and are generally in better shape.
Antioxidants, nutrients that stop a process akin to rusting within our bodies, are one of the fruit’s beneficial ingredients, and they work in a more comprehensive way than antioxidants in supplement pills.
As an example, according to research at Cornell University, an apple the size of a baseball contains an average of only 6 milligrams of vitamin C. However, its anti-rusting, or antioxidant effect is equal to taking 1,500 milligrams of the vitamin as a supplement, because the apple contains a large number beneficial ingredients that work together.
In studies examining the impact of apples on specific conditions, benefits included:
• Preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s disease and age-related mental decline.
• Inhibiting development of the most deadly type of breast cancer.
• Preventing pancreatic cancer.
• Triggering the production of a neurotransmitter that improves memory.
• Preventing damage to cells that leads to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
• Contributing to healthy bacteria in the gut and reducing risk for ulcers and colon cancer.
• Supporting healthy lungs and reducing the odds of respiratory problems.

Apple Options
Biting into the whole fruit is only one way to eat apples. Try these:
• Add diced apples, with the peel, to coleslaw, green salads, and chicken salad.
• Add apple slices to tuna in a pita pocket.
• Spread peanut butter on apple slices instead of crackers.
• Dip apple slices into vanilla yogurt.
• If you get a snack attack while watching television, munch on a bowl of bite-sized pieces of apple. This requires the same hand-to-mouth coordination as eating a bag of potato chips.
• The taste of apples can vary considerably, depending on the variety and whether they were picked when ripe (most flavorful), or earlier to extend shelf life. In supermarkets and at farmers markets, ask for samples before you buy. If they taste great, you’re more likely to choose apples over less healthy snacks.

© HealthDay

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An apple a day may well keep the doctor away, but the fruit also has a dark side. Apples are one of the top sources of pesticides in our diets. However, people who regularly eat apples have lower blood pressure, trimmer waistlines, and are generally in better shape. Here's what to do.
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 08:08 AM
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