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The Nutrition Centre

Grandma was right....an apple a day does keep the doctor away!


Apples and Phytonutrients


appleA recent study show 100% apple juice is more nutrition than previously thought.  In fact, apple juice contains a significant amount of phytonutrients which may help protect against heart disease.


Researchers at Davis Medical Center have found that antioxidants in apple juice help reduce levels of bad cholesterol and may protect against heart disease.


Apples, long considered part of a healthy diet, contain phenols or chemical compounds in their juice that are also found in other fruits and vegetables. Those phenolic compounds have been shown to act as antioxidants that help protect the body from injury, including the injuries of eating fat in your diet. The antioxidants work by preventing the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, and have the potential to guard the body against chronic heart disease, the leading cause of death in this country.


The study shows that 100 percent apple juice is a nutritious addition to any healthy well-balanced diet.


Now apple juice has been added to the list of  wine, tea and grape juice as beverages which have antioxidant components that may help reduce levels of LDL.


It remains unclear if and to what degree these phytochemicals, or plant-derived compounds, are absorbed in the body in a metabolically active form, but researchers agree that fruits and vegetables containing these beneficial compounds contribute to healthy diets.


Dianne Hyson, a dietitian at UC Davis Medical Center, emphasizes that this study is another reason for instilling a heart-healthy lifestyle in young children as they are establishing habits that can make a big difference in their health later.


"Children tend to like apple juice, and this new information indicates there are more health benefits to drinking it than we thought previously," she says. "Past studies have focused on identifying antioxidants in other foods. These new findings give us even more reason to emphasize apple juice as a fruit serving."


As we age, our bodies produce harmful materials in our cells known as oxidants; they affect arteries, skin and other organs in the body. Gershwin compares these oxidants to sparks that age cells and cause damage. Antioxidants, such as those found in apple juice, are able to prevent those sparks from hurting the body.


"We found the amount and activity of antioxidants in apple juice to be significant," Gershwin says. "In fact, if you went out and ordered a hamburger, drinking apple juice or other phytonutrient-rich beverage would help to protect your body against the fats in that burger."


He also stresses the importance of eating these healthy nutrients as foods rather than trying to consume them in the form of a pill. "The importance of phytonutrients comes down to the expression, you are what you eat," he says. "And eating something that contains all sorts of natural substances is so much more healthy than taking a handful of different pills which aren't digested or absorbed the way something natural like apple juice would be. If you drink apple juice, you're getting everything in the juice, not one single thing that might come in a pill."


The old saying 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away,' has more support with this new research, Gershwin says. "In fact, we're showing that apple juice contains some good antioxidants, excellent vitamins and good nutrition -- things that protect you from illness. If I could give just one piece of advice to families, every time you eat fast food, drink something like apple juice or some other beverage containing antioxidants with that meal to help prevent damage from the fatty foods."


Source: Adapted from Newswise





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