Why an Apple a Day Really Might Keep the Doctor Away
January 3, 2005
Last year we predicted lycopene as star of ’04, and indeed many new studies have focused on the carotenoid’s potential to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and promote heart health. Lycopene is found in many red fruits and veggies — watermelon, pink grapefruit and tomatoes to name a few. Consumption of red apples, on the other hand, can confer another kind of possible benefit from a little known phytochemical that we predict will be making headlines soon: Quercetin (pronounced “kwer-suh-ten”)
Fresh apples — the peel in particular — have some of the highest levels of quercetin (also found in onions, broccoli, kale, blueberries, cranberries and red grapes). Some of the most lab exciting studies on this flavonol suggest it may help fight Alzheimer’s disease by protecting brain cells against oxidative stress. In an animal study at Cornell University, quercetin proved more powerful than the antioxidant vitamin C in neutralizing the kind of neural damage done by free radicals. “Fresh apples have some of the highest levels of quercetin … and may be among the best food choices for fighting Alzheimer’s,” said study author C.Y. Lee.
Given quercetin’sinteresting potential, we’re likely to see different supplement makers and food manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon, but as we’ve seen with other research, it’ s far preferable to get actual nutrients from fruits and vegetables — not pills or fortified products. In addition to bioavailability of nutrients when consumed from whole foods, fresh apples are good sources of fiber and vitamin C. Store apples in the refrigerator, and they last up to 10 times longer than at room temperature.