Why the Apple Is One of the World’s Most Healing Superfoods

May 28, 2014 Updated: May 29, 2014

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This age old saying has never rang 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.  

Also, apples are also far cheaper than doctors, and in the worst case scenario of coerced or mandatory treatment can be thrown as a non-deadly (downright nutritious) form of self-defense.  

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. 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,
  • Breast Cancer: apples have been found to both prevent and to suppress mammary cancers in the animal model.
  • Multi-Drug Resistant Cancer: carotenoids extracted from apple have been found to inhibit drug resistant cancer cell line proliferation.
  • Esophageal Cancer: An apple-derived procyanidin has been found to suppress esophageal cancer. 
  • 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.  But apple procyanidin has also been studied for its ability to directly induce programmed cell death within stomach cancer cells.

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%. 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%. Significant reductions were noted in as short a time period as 16 days.  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.

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.

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Other Noteworthy “Evidence-Based” Medicinal Properties of Apple Include:

  • Diarrhea: Apple, in combination with chamomile, shortens the course of unspecific diarrhea in children.
  • Hardening of the Arteries (Atherosclerosis): Preclinical research indicates that apple contains compounds which prevent the formation of plaque within the arteries. 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.
  • Overweight: A human study found significant weight loss associated with a daily intake of three apples or three pears among overweight women.
  • Anti-Aging (Brain): Apples have been found to prevent oxidative damage and impaired maze performance, as well as decreases in cognitive performance in aging mice. 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.
  • Bowel Inflammation: Preclinical research has found that apple procyanidins reduces bowel inflammation.
  • 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. Apple polyphenol also protects against periodontal ligament cell destruction associated with Porphyromonas gingivalis, a pathogenic anaerobic bacteria, infection.
  • 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.
  • Hair Loss: Remarkably, a procyanidin, labeled B-2, from apples promotes hair growth, in the cell model.
  • Staphylococcal Infections: Apple pectin has been shown to inhibit synthesis of types A and B staphylococcal enterotoxins, which can cause profound bodily damage.
  • 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.