The apple is a native of Eastern Europe and Western Asia and has been cultivated from pre historic times.. In India, apples are grown in the hilly areas of Kashmir , Himachal Pradesh and Kumaon. Nearly 7,500 varieties of the fruit are grown all over the world . The apple is a sub-acid fruit and one of the most valuable of all the fruits It is a fleshy fruit, with tough skin, ranging in color from greenish yellow to red. It is usually five to seven cm in diameter and has pinkish or yellowish white flesh. The apple is considered "protective" and most wholesome food. Apart from its energy value, it plays an important role in the normal development of metabolic functions-i.e..the chemical and physical changes that take place within the body and enable its continued growth and functioning . Food Value: The apple is a highly nutritive food. It contains minerals and vitamins in abundance. The food value of the apple is chiefly constituted by its contents of sugar which ranges from 9 t0 51 percent. Raw apples generally contain a small quantity of starch which gets wholly converted into sugar during the process of ripening. The acid content of the apple is also increased together with the sugar. This acid is constituted mostly by malic acid which is completely utilized by the body. The skin of the apple should not be discarded when taking it in raw form as the skin and the flesh just below it contain more vitamin C than the inner flesh. The vitamin content decreases gradually towards the centre of the fruit .The skin also contains five times more vitamin A than the flesh .
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties: Apples are invaluable in the maintenance of good health and in the treatment of many ailments. It was said long ago, 'to eat an apple before going to bed will make the doctor beg his bread' The modern version of this ancient saving, 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away', sums up the healthful and nourishing qualities of apples.
The active medicinal principle of apple is pectin, natural therapeutic ingredient found in the inner portion of the rind and the pulp Pectin aids in detoxification by supplying the 'galacturonic acid' needed for the elimination of certain harmful substances It also helps to prevent decomposition of protein matter in the alimentary canal. The malic acid contained in the apple is beneficial to the bowels, liver and brain.
Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. Like many fruits, apples contain Vitamin C as well as a host of other antioxidant compounds, it may reduce the risk of cancer by preventing DNA damage. The fibre content, while less than in most other fruits, helps regulate bowel movements and may thus reduce the risk of colon cancer. They may also help with heart disease, weight loss and controlling cholesterol, as they do not have any cholesterol, have fibre (which reduces cholesterol by preventing reabsorption), and are bulky for their caloric content like most fruits and vegetables.
Anemia : - Apples, being rich in iron, are highly beneficial in the treatment of anemia. It will be particularly useful in the form of freshly prepared apple juice. It may be taken in quantities of 1 kg. daily with beneficial results. The best time to take the juice is half an hour before meals and just before retiring to bed.
Gastrointestinal Disorders : - A natural 'apple medicine' for the disturbed stomach is prepared by slicing a whole apple and gently pounding it until it becomes slightly mashed. It may be sprinkled with
cinnamon or honey The entire mashed apple may be eaten except for the stem and seeds .It should be chewed thoroughly before swallowing. This preparation should be taken several times between meals for beneficial results The all natural medicinal substance, pectin, in the mashed apple works to create a protective coating action by virtue of its qualities as an absorbent and demulcent i.e. the soothing agent. It should be taken before meals. It stimulates sluggish digestive juices and this facilitates assimilation of food for healthful results.
Apples are beneficial in the treatment of both constipation and diarrhea. Raw apples are good for constipation. At least two apples should be taken easily for proper evacuation of bowels Cooked or baked apples are good for diarrhea The cooking process softens the cellulose and provides bulk to the feces.
Headache :- Apples are highly beneficial in the treatment of all types of headache. A ripe apple, after removing the upper rind and the inner hard portion should be taken with a little salt every morning on empty stomach in such cases. This should be continued for about a week.
Heart Disease :- Apples are of special value to heart patients. They are rich in potassium and phosphorus but low in sodium. From ancient times, apple with honey is considered a very effective remedy for functional disorders of heart. Recent researches by Dr. Elizabeth Barret Cannor of California University have revealed that people who consume plenty of potassium through food items are likely to escape heart attacks. Apples, as a good source of potassium, help in the alleviation of heart disease.
High Blood Pressure :- Apples are considered invaluable in the cases of high blood pressure. The apple diet has a rapid and considerable diuretic effect causing increased secretion of urine and thus bringing down blood pressure to normal. It also relieves the kidneys by reducing the supply of sodium chloride to a minimum In addition, it lowers the sodium level in the tissues because of the high level of potassium in apples.
Joint Pains:- Apples are regarded an excellent food medicine for gout, arthritis and rheumatism especially when these diseases are caused by uric acid poisoning. The malic acid contained in them is believed to neutralize the uric acid and afford relief to the sufferers.
Dry Cough :- Sweet apples are valuable in dry hacking cough. Nearly 250 grams of sweet apples should be taken daily for about a week to obtain relief.
Dental Disorders :- Tooth-decay can be prevented by regular consumption of apples as they possess a mouth cleansing property. Dr. T.T. HanKs in his book, Dental Survey, says, "Apples have mouth cleansing property that no other fruit possesses, and taken after meals, they have the same effect as a tooth brush in cleansing the teeth, with the added advantage that the acid content, aside from its nutritive value, is of assistance in promoting the flow of saliva in the mouth, which is also beneficial to the teeth". The acid of the apple also exerts an antiseptic influence upon the germs present in the mouth and teeth when it is thoroughly chewed. Apples are thus regarded as a natural preserver of the teeth and should be taken in all tooth troubles.
Promotes Vigour and Vitality :- The apple is the best fruit to tone up a weak and run-down condition of the human system. It removes all deficiencies of vital organs and makes the body stout and strong. It tones up the body and the brain as it contains more phosphorus and iron than any other fruit or vegetable. Its regular consumption with milk promotes health and youthfulness and helps build healthy and bright skin. It has a calming and relaxing effect and is good especially for sedentary workers.
Precautions: Apples should not be consumed on an empty stomach as it may lead to indigestion Pesticide contamination is linked to an increasing number of diseases, and they are mostly found on the outside of fruits and vegetables. Washing or peeling before eating may reduce pesticide intake but peeling will also reduce the intake of the beneficial nutrients. Apple consumption can help remove trapped food and clean between the teeth, but the malic acid contained within the fruit is also capable of eroding tooth enamel over time, and through excess consumption Apples are often sprayed with poisonous chemicals to prevent them from decay, the fruits should be thoroughly washed and cleaned in all possible ways before consumption.
Lecturer dept. Kayachikitsa
Dayanand Ayurvedic College,