We have all heard the expression “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” but did you know that apples are also on the American Institute of Cancer Research’s (AICR) list of “Foods That Fight Cancer?” And they are there rightfully so – multiple studies have shown that eating just one apple daily reduces the risk of many cancers by almost 50%.
Apples get their cancer-fighting properties from high levels of vitamin C, fiber and flavonoids, reported CBS news.
“In laboratory studies, flavonoids such as quercetin and the triterpenoids found in apples have slowed the development of cancers of the colon, lung and breast in several stages of cancer development. Current research suggests that protection may come as much from directly affecting cell growth as from antioxidant activity,” states AICR.
What the Studies Show about Apples and Cancer Prevention
- Researchers at the Cornell University found a link between cancer prevention and phytochemicals in apples. Phytochemicals are “non-nutrient plant compounds such as the carotenoids, flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and phenolic acids.” Apples are high in a type of phytochemical called flavonoids. Not only are flavonoids linked to cancer prevention, they are also associated with decreased mortality.
- The Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study found a decreased risk of lung cancer in women, when consuming fruits and vegetables, but especially apples.
- A study from Finland found a strong link between flavonoids and lung cancer prevention. “…The flavonoids from apples were most likely responsible for the decreased risk in lung cancer,” the study concluded.
- A study from Poland shows that eating apples daily reduces the risk of colon cancer by half. The study noted that it is important to eat the apple with the skin, as it contains five times more antioxidants than the apple’s flesh (you should definitely buy organic to get these benefits as “conventional” U.S. apples are actually banned throughout Europe). The researchers also found than no other fruit or vegetable has the same effect of lowering the risk of this particular cancer.
Is It All in the Peel?
Just as the Polish researchers noted, the peel of the apple contains the most cancer-fighting antioxidants. But that is not all. While cancer cells have an ability to turn off body’s natural healing mechanism, apple peels are able to turn it back on!
Dr. Michael Greger explains that apple peel turns back on a cancer-suppressing protein called maspin.
Watch Dr. Greger explain the benefits of apple peels in the video below:
Other studies have also looked at the effects of apple peels specifically and found a strong potential for cancer prevention. Apple peel contains triterpenoids, cancer-fighting compounds, especially beneficial to preventing breast, colon, and liver cancers. They also contain pectin, which protects against lung cancer and binds to toxins in the body to release them more safely.
What to Do about the Pesticides in the Peel
Even though the peel has the most health benefits, you have to be aware that the peel of non-organic apples also contains the most pesticide content. After all, apples have been number one produce on the Dirty Dozen list, only surpassed by strawberries for the first time this year.
If you are unable to by organic apples, but would like to eat the skin of the apples, it is important to wash the pesticides off the apple, and just water will not do the job.
Do I have to eat the whole apple?
Is it possible to take out the healthy constituents of the apple and take it in vitamin form, you ask? While some studies have successfully used apple peel extract, the majority of current research says that vitamins are not enough, it is vital to eat the whole fruit in order to get the benefits.
If you would rather take a supplement, apple pectin and quercetin (found in the skins of red apples) are recommended. Please note, that quercetin needs to be broken down by the well-functioning digestive tract, so it is best to take it with a good probiotic.
However, it is best to incorporate whole apples into the diet (and hopefully we’ll see more organic orchards soon):
“Research is pointing to the fact there is not one single phytochemical that supplies apples’ anti-cancer properties. It’s the whole apple,” according to Rui Hai Liu, a professor in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University as quoted by AICR.
This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a holistic doctor before making any major changes. You can also subscribe for more articles like these in your inbox (and get a free eBook) by clicking here.
Want to learn more about the most effective ways to prevent and beat cancer? Watch the Truth About Cancer, a 9-part documentary NOW.