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What are the Benefits of Apple
Where did Apple Originate
The wild variant of the apple is found growing, to this day, in the area defined by southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Xinjiang, China. Even so Turkey seems to be the center of domestication and cultivation of the apple.
Still this is a tough determination to make. The apple is likely the oldest fruit tree to be cultivated by humans and for that reason its use as a food item stretches far into pre-history. A single species, having been bred and improved for thousands of years, was what Alexander the Great found and brought back to Macedonia in roughly 300 BCE.
Knowing the exact origins can be tricky though, because the ancients often referred to different fruits by a single name.
The apple made it's way to the Americas via colonists with the first active north American orchard somewhere near present day Boston; this sometime in the mid 1600s.
It was Washington state that turned the apple from simple food staple to cash crop by planting vast orchards and using state funded irrigation techniques.
Because apples have been around so long they appear in a wide variety of folk tales, legends, and myths.
In Norse legend, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth.
It is said that she fed apples to the gods and this kept them eternal and youthful. In an odd story one of the spirits of nature, a giant named jötunn,somehow coerces Loki (the trickster troublemaker) into luring Iðunn away from her home in Asgard. Loki does this by promising her interesting apples in the woods. When Loki leads her there jötunn turns himself into an eagle and carries Iðunn to his home.
Meanwhile the gods begin turning old and gray. They somehow figure out that Loki is involved and insist that he bring her back to Asgard. This Loki does by turning into a falcon; he flies to jötunn's house to finds Iðunn alone there. Turning Iðunn into a nut he carries her back to Asgard, but jötunn gives chase by becoming an eagle. The gods are waiting for all three and have built a huge pyre. When Loki stops suddenly mid-flight once reaching Asgard, jötunn falls into the fire and is destroyed.
Iðunn's name has morphed over time with variants being Idun, Idunn or Ithun. With an "a" added in some languages to denote the feminine. This way the name has further morphed into Iduna and Idunna.
Regardless of spelling, the Norse tale indicates that the apple has been associated with good health and longevity for thousands of years.
The apple is has the widest distribution and cultivation of any fruit. It is grown in China, The United States, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Italy, India, France, Chile and Argentina. The countries listed in the order of production.
World wide production is 64 million tons, with China the top producer at 27 million tons. The United States comes in a distant second at 4.27 million tons. In the United States Washington State is the top producer with over 60% of domestic apples coming from that state.
Nutritional Value of Apple
Like the pear, apples
are somewhat light on nutrition having less than ten percent of many of
the nutrients humans require. Even so as a "desert" plant this nutritional profile should not be discounted.
A three and a half ounce serving of pear provides 14 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams simple sugars, 2.4 grams dietary fiber, 0 grams of fat, and less than a third of a gram of protein.
It also provides less than five percent of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9. It contains 7% RDA of vitamin C, along with trace amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
Since most of the dietary fiber and vitamin C are in the skin eating a whole apple has better health benefits than just the meat of the fruit.
Health Benefits of Apple
A proverb, traced to Wales goes something like "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." This expression began getting widespread use in the 19th century, though the legends and myths from ages past likely had a great deal to do with the coining of this expression.
Ongoing research indicates that the apple may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. These are similar properties to the pear.
Though apple contains relatively low amounts of Vitamin C (mostly in the skin), they are a rich source of antioxidant compounds. Also, though the fiber content is also low, apples help regulate bowel movements and thus reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Apples have also been implicated in the reduction of heart disease, weight loss, and cholesterol maintenance.
Apple juice contains the compound acetylcholine which in rodent studies has been found to reduce the effects of aging regarding cognitive function and dementia. Other studies have indicated that apple juice can actually reverse these two effects of aging. This reveals that the compound acetylcholine can be both a preventative and cure.
Apples should be selected when firm. Unlike the pear, you do not want the apple to become mushy or easily dented by squeezing. For that reason apples are best chosen by color and since apples come in a wide variety of colors knowing the proper color for the ripe fruit is essential.
As with other fruit the apple's ripening can be retarded or suspended by storing it in the refrigerator one it reaches the peak of ripeness.
Beneficial Properties of Apple
Apples can be stored in cans or as juice. They can be juiced to produce apple juice. This juice, in turn, can be fermented to make apple cider or cider. For clarity apple cider is strained juice and cider is fermented to produce alcohol. The juice can also be fermented then "spoiled" to produce vinegar.
Apple wine can also be made.
As Beauty Aid
First thing in the morning wash your face with 1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar in a sink full of water. The vinegar will add a cleansing astringent quality to the water.
Mix together 1 Tablespoon of oats, 1/2 teaspoon of raw honey, 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of distilled warm water.
Store in a clean jar or bottle and keep by the sink. Apply to the face by using a cotton pad, dabbing the mixture onto the skin. The honey is anti-bacterial, the oats a natural skin softener, and the vinegar will balance the Ph on your skin.
Store by the sink no more than a week; discarding and remixing a new batch each time.
Apple Cider Vinegar Bath (or Shower)
Add 1 Cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath water. This will balance the Ph on your skin and give your skin a soothed soft texture. If you prefer to shower add 1 Cup of apple cider vinegar and one Cup of water to a clean spray bottle. Immediately after the shower spray from head to toe and wait a few minutes before rinsing yourself clean.
The mixture above can also be applied to the hair to help fight dandruff. After shampooing pour the mixture over your hair and wrap in a towel for fifteen minutes. After that period of time return to the shower (or bath) and rinse the mixture off. This treatment is touted to not only eradicate dandruff, but end itchy scalp, and even encourage hair growth.
Less than Usual Apple Recipes
You are going to cheat a bit here by buying your apple cider before hand rather than trying to make it yourself. Blends are good for this recipe, but ultimately it just has to be apple cider with no particular cultivar favored over the other.
Of course if you have a favorite apple, by all means use the apple cider from that cultivar.
- 1 Gallon apple cider (not alcoholic cider)
- 1 Pound of Cane Sugar
- 1 teaspoon of Yeast Nutrient
- 1/8 teaspoon of Pectic Enzyme
- 1-1/2 teaspoon of Acid Blend
- 1/4 Teaspoon of Wine Tannin
- 1/8 teaspoon of Ascorbic Acid
- 1 Campden Tablet (crushed and dissolved)
To make more wine simply increase all the amounts above proportionally.
- Boil the apple cider for twenty minutes and let cool.
- Mix together everything listed above in an open
container, except for the
- Cover with a light towel and let sit for 24 hour.
- After 24 hours, add the yeast.
- Allow to ferment 4 to 5 days.
- After 4 or 5 days, carefully siphon the wine into a secondary container with an eye to leaving the sediment behind.
- Allow the wine to ferment another 2 to 3 weeks under air-lock*.
- Now the wine needs to clear which takes another two or three weeks.
- Once the wine is completely cleared, it is ready to bottle and age.
* During the fermentation process gases escape from the liquid. In order to allow gas to escape without allowing outside air in "air-lock" is used.
Bok Choy Apple Slaw
With the slight peppery taste of the bok-choy and the sweetness of the apple, this is an interesting dish.
- 1/3 Cup reduced-fat sour cream
- 1/3 Cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons white-wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 Cups very thinly sliced bok choy; about a one pound head
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, julienned or shredded (other tart varieties work well too)
- 1 large carrot, julienned or shredded
- 1/2 Cup slivered red onion
- Whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar (or honey), celery salt and salt
- Add the thinly sliced bok-choy, apple, carrot and onion; toss to coat.
- That's it!
This is very simple. Pre-heat your oven to 400° F. Prepare a flat cookie sheet lightly coated with oil. Place the stemmed apples on the pan and roast for twenty minutes, turning once or twice for an even bake. That's it!
Of course you can eat them raw, but have you ever tried a slice of apple (tart are really good with this) with a equal sized slice of your favorite cheese on it? Try it with pepper jack, chedder, even feta. Yum!