October is the best time of year to come apple and pear picking at Mt. View Orchards! Good news just in time for the fall harvest of apples and pears: It turns out that eating one of those fruits a day may help prevent stroke. A new, large Dutch study of 20,000 adults ages 20 to 65 found that eating a white-fleshed fruit, like an apple or a pear, daily is associated with a lower risk of stroke.
Most Americans don't get enough fiber each day to meet their nutritional requirements. It's recommended that women get at least 25 grams of fiber per day on a 2,000 calorie diet -- or to be more precise, 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. Men are recommended to get 38 grams. However, the average American only gets about 15 grams daily. Twenty-five grams is actually at the low end of what your optimal fiber intake, so there's no reason not to aim higher. So back to that apple: How does an apple measure up in terms of fiber? Eating just one apple a day (skin on) will give you an average of 4.4 grams of fiber, about one-fifth of your daily need.
And apples and pears don't have just any old fiber, they are a rich source of a particularly powerful kind called pectin. It's what's used as a gelling agent to make jams and jellies, and in our stomach it can delay stomach emptying through a similar mechanism. Researchers at UCLA showed that by swapping in pectin for regular fiber, they could double the time it took subjects' stomachs to empty from about 1 hour to 2 hours, which meant subjects felt full that much longer. And in another study published in the journal Nutrition, scientists found that instructing participants to eat an apple or a pear before meals resulted in significant weight loss.
The participants were told, in effect, to eat more food, to add the fruit on top of their regular diets, and what happened is that the fruit crowded out less healthy choices, they ended up eating fewer calories overall, and they started shedding pounds.
While singing the praises of the humble apple, though, I would be remiss not to mention the extraordinary health benefits associated with eating them. It seems the old adage, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" just may hold truer than we knew.
A major review published in 2008 out of the German Cancer Research Center found that indeed, compared with those who eat less than an apple a day, those who eat one or more had less risk of oral cancer, cancer of the voice box, breast cancer, and colon, kidney, and ovarian cancer as well.
This makes sense given new research from Cornell showing that apple peels have potent antioxidant and growth-blocking effects on human breast cancer cells examined in a petri dish, and the higher the apple concentration, the fewer the cancer cells. And apples seem to work best against estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer, which is much harder to treat than the receptor-positive kind.
How do apples do what they do?
There are three stages of tumor formation. Carcinogens cause the initial DNA mutations (the initiation stage), and then oxidation, inflammation, and hormones cause it to grow (the promotion stage); finally, metastasis occurs, in which the cancer spreads throughout the body. Which steps have apples been found to block? All of them. Apples not only have antimutagenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects, but they may even enhance our immune systems to help clear out any budding tumors before they get their start.
We grow over 50 different types of apples and 20 different types of pears at Mt. View Orchards, It is an absolutely beautiful time to come and visit the Orchard and stock up on our finest. There is no comparison to a tree ripened fruit that you have have picked yourself. If you're rooting around for something to eat, consider reaching for an apple or pear and usually by the time you're finished eating it, your hunger will have been sidelined; it's crowding out at its best! Have it in the midmorning, in the afternoon, or before a meal; it's entirely up to you. But before the day's end, do eat an apple or pear. Any kind will do. You might just be pleasantly surprised at how the weight starts coming off and your health begins to soar! Come apple picking this weekend and start losing weight this fall. In all of my 37 years I have not grown tired of apples and pears, I always lose weight each autumn and for this I am a grateful farmer.