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Healing apples

Our ancient fruit, the apple, originated in Central Asia (in what is now Kazakhstan) and was cultivated tens of thousands of years before Christ. It came to Europe by the silk road and spread from there to the rest of the world. Interestingly, it belongs to the rose family. There are 7500 varieties of apples in literature. 

King Matthias’s favorite apple was the Kormos apple, and he had a large number of them delivered to his court.

Farkas Bolyai also cultivated apples. His favorite was the Pónyik apple. At his grave in the Reformed cemetery in Târgu Mureș, the Pónyik apple tree still stands today, as he requested.

A nutrient-rich, cooling fruit after exercise that hydrates at the cellular level. 

Its main beneficial components are fibers, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Among the ingredients that are beneficial for the body, I would highlight the most important one – fibers. These are actually complex carbohydrates that cannot be broken down by the body, so they pass through the alimentary canal and exert their beneficial effects locally: regulating intestinal bacteria, providing energy to the cells of the colon, stimulating the production of intestinal mucus and intestinal motility.

In recent years, it has become clear to researchers that our diet plays a key role in the structure and function of the gut flora. The food we ingest interacts with the micro-organisms in the gut, influencing their reproduction and immediate environment and thus indirectly affecting the host’s immune system. Today, the origin of many diseases can be traced back to the improper functioning of this gut flora. If we do not provide the right nutrition to the body, disease can develop. 

Consuming probiotics and fibers prevents and heals many diseases by regulating the gut bacteria.

It reduces the risk of stroke, heart and vascular diseases, improves blood sugar levels also due to its fiber content (scientifically proven) so eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is recommended.

It keeps the heart healthy not only because of the fiber but also because of the vitamin C and antioxidants. The soluble fiber in apples, especially pectin, helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and improve heart health.

The antioxidants have been scientifically studied to prevent cancer, especially lung, breast and colon cancer. Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables leads to a reduced risk of chronic diseases.

It also has a positive effect when dieting, as apples fill you up, reduce your appetite and make you feel less hungry. The fact that apples are low in calories is not negligible. A medium sized apple (about 182g) has only 95 calories on average.

Some studies suggest that regular consumption of apples is associated with improved lung function and a reduced risk of respiratory disease. Research shows that regular apple consumption during pregnancy reduces the risk of asthma in the child.

The potential neuroprotective effects of quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples, is beneficial in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. It is good food for the brain, nourishes the nervous system and has beneficial effects on mental well-being.

The vitamins found in apples are not particularly different from those found in other fruits. It contains vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, folic acid and vitamin C. It is very rich in minerals. It contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, fluorine, iodine and selenium. These work together to keep our immune system resilient.

It is recommended to eat apples whole, raw and unpeeled, as the fibers and vitamin C are located directly under the skin. There’s a theory that you don’t need to wash the fruit if it comes from your own chemical-free garden to avoid washing away the beneficial bacterial layer that covers the apple and which, when ingested, strengthens the immune system. Try to eat 2-3 raw apples a day. You can also eat them dried, but there’s plenty of nutritional value in them when cooked or baked. Apple peel makes an excellent tea and can also be used in tea blends. Also worth mentioning the apple cider vinegar, which is also beneficial for diabetes, lowers blood cholesterol and helps with weight loss. 

If you don’t manage to buy chemical-free apples, don’t despair. Experiments have shown that the structure of apples means that few chemicals can stick to their surface. If you wash and scrub the surface of the apple well, most of the harmful substances are removed.  Research shows that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruit and vegetables outweigh the risks of using pesticides.

Storing apples for winter is not difficult but depends on the variety. Summer and juicy apples should be used soon after picking, while winter apples will keep well in a single layer in a cool cellar in crates or on a shelf until spring, but need to be sorted occasionally. There are varieties such as golden parmen (“arany pármen”) that will keep for up to a year in the right conditions. In the old days the precious fruit was wrapped in paper to store it or for transport. 

Earlier theories held that apples cleaned teeth. Unfortunately, this has not been scientifically proven. Like soft drinks, apples damage teeth due to their acid and sugar content. Dentists recommend that apples should be eaten chopped up and chewed with the back teeth. However, eat apples with other foods as much as possible and rinse your mouth with water after eating to wash out the sugars and acids.

High consumption of apple seeds is harmful to the body due to the presence of cyanide compounds.

The apple and the soul

The nameless fruit of the Garden of Eden became an apple, thanks to the story of the golden apples in the Hesperides garden. As a result, the apple became a symbol of knowledge, immortality, temptation, the fall of man and sin. Legend has it that the golden apple tree, the tree of life, grows in the center of the garden.

The apple also plays an important role in Greek mythology. According to one legend, when Zeus and Hera married, the various deities came bearing wedding gifts. Gaia brought branches bearing golden apples as a wedding gift. 

According to Norse mythology, the goddess of eternal youth keeps apples in a wooden box which the gods eat when they start to grow old so that they can always grow young again. They also record the link between fertility and apples. 

The Celts also consider apples to be a symbol of immortality and good luck. From Celtic times, a tradition still practiced in Cornwall, in what is now south-west England, of giving a large bright red Allan apple to family and friends in October as a sign of good luck. Young people place the apple under their pillow in the hope of dreaming of their future mate.

The link between apple consumption and diabetes

Regular consumption of apples reduces the risk of developing diabetes and, in the case of existing diabetes, lowers blood sugar levels through the fibre they contain.

Apples are a healthy food for people with diabetes. Scientifically, apples have a low glycaemic index (GI), which means they have a lower effect on blood sugar levels. The glycaemic index is a scale that ranks foods containing carbohydrates according to how quickly they raise blood sugar levels.

Apples also contain dietary fiber, in particular soluble fiber, which coats the intestinal wall with a beneficial layer to slow the absorption of sugar and this way improves blood sugar control. In addition, the antioxidants and other phytochemicals found in apples contribute to overall health.

However, it is important to consider how many apples a diabetic eats, how much and what type of carbohydrate they consume overall, their diet, their individual blood glucose levels and their treatment goals. It is advisable for diabetics to eat apples in combination with foods containing fat and protein, and to divide the daily portion into several smaller portions so that it raises blood glucose levels even less and gives a feeling of fullness for longer.

It is advisable for people with diabetes to discuss their personalized diet with their doctor and a dietician specialized in diabetic diet.

It is worth noting that the nutritional content varies from apple to apple. There is no one apple variety that has been scientifically proven to be the best for diabetes. However, some studies suggest that apples with higher fiber content and lower glycaemic index may be more beneficial for people with diabetes. Remember that individual reactions to foods vary.

Here are some apple varieties that are generally recognised for their health benefits:

Granny Smith: This variety is known for its lower sugar content and higher acidity, which may contribute to a lower glycemic index.

Red Delicious: Although sweeter than Granny Smith, it has a moderate glycemic index and provides a variety of nutrients.

Gala: This sweet and crisp apple falls in the middle range of glycemic index values.

Regardless of the variety, moderate consumption of apples, practicing portion control and incorporating them into a balanced diet are key factors in managing blood glucose levels.

Remember that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is recommended for people with diabetes. In addition to apples, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries have a very good effect on insulin levels. Citrus fruits, peaches, plums and pears can also be eaten alongside vegetables. It is recommended to eat any fruit whole and raw. Fruit juices are not recommended for diabetics, as they cause a sudden rise in blood sugar levels due to their low fiber content.

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