A is for apple  –  plenty of them


By Mary-Ann Shearer

The old adage of “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away” has never been more true than today. With all the latest research pointing to the importance of fruit and vegetables to avoid the “BIG 3” killers (heart disease, diabetes and cancer) the World Health Organisation has now concluded that to avoid degenerative diseases we need to eat not only an apple a day, but at least 5 – 11 portions of fruit a day.

Apple Facts:

  • A deficiency in folic acid can result in neural tube defects and spina bifida. All raw fruit contains folic acid, including that apple. (bulletin of PAHO – Sept. 1995, European J, Clinic Nutr. – Nov. 1995)
  • Diets high in fruit are associated with reduced risks of colon cancer and pre-cancerous polyps. (Cancer Epidemiology – Oct/ Nov 1995)
  • Antioxidants might prevent diabetes and minimise it’s complications. All raw fruit, (yes – that apple as well) are high in antioxidants. (BMJ – Oct. 1995)
  • Antioxidants not only help prevent diabetes, but also all types of degenerative disease – cancer, heart disease, arthritis, etc. (Drug Safety – July 1995)
  • Taking supplements of Vitamin A can be harmful to your unborn child, yet all Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene in fruit (and vegetables) is completely harmless. Let’s face it that apple looks and tastes much nicer than a handful of pills. (New England J. Medicine – Nov. 1995)
  • The more fruit you eat, the less likely you’ll suffer from heart disease or stroke. (J.A.M.A – Oct. 1995)
  • The new dietary guideline released in America states that the best form of fibre – which helps prevent the “BIG 3” is found, not in food supplements, but in natural foods such as all fruit, including that apple.
  • A high intake of fruit is important in the prevention of all cancers of the digestive tract. (American J. Epidemiology – Nov.1995)
  • Vitamin B6 helps prevent and reverse dermatitis – almost all fruit including apples contain Vitamin B6. (British J. Dermatology)
  • Eating a fruit meal 2 – 3 hours before flying can prevent airsickness (Aviation, Space & Environmental Medicine – June 1995)

According to Dr John Heinermann (Ph.D.), just a common apple contains 12 vitamins, 13 minerals, 386 phytonutrients of which 59 are proven cell protectors and detoxifiers and those are only the known nutrients!

Most scientists today acknowledge that there could be many hundreds more vitamins, minerals and nutrients in all fruit that has yet to be discovered. The sugar in fruit, known as fructose, is in the most simple and easy to use form for our bodies to use. It does not upset our blood sugar or chemical reactions in the brain, as does refined sugar.

The variety of apples available in South Africa is considerable with “Starking”, “Golden delicious” and “Granny Smith” being the most common. Most people think of winter as a lean fruit time, yet this is “apple season” with apples at their best. I find that each year I look forward to the three months (usually March to May) that the Royal Gala apple variety is available. Most apples store well all year round, but Royal Gala apples don’t, so they’re only available for a short season.

Apples throughout History

All fruit tends to have a history with a variety of therapeutic uses, yet none are as colourful as the history of the apple. Apples are often referred to as the first fruit. (remember the garden of Eden?)

Hieroglyphic writings found in the pyramids and tombs of ancient Egyptians indicate that they used the apple both as a food and medicine. Apples have been used as a cure for jaundice, (mixed with saffron) rubbed on warts as a cure, and eaten to prevent fever and restore youth. Today many people still use grated apples to stop diarrhoea.

Apples appear to help the body absorb iron more efficiently and the high levels of pectin they contain helps stimulate the gentle movement of the intestines aiding natural bowel elimination. Apples are recommended to help low blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and encourage weight loss in the overweight.

In winter apple juice is a much healthier drink than any hot or cold beverage. Incidentally, apple juice with boiling water and a pinch of cinnamon is delicious and comforting.

Another fruit that is available in abundance during winter is the pear. Whether juiced or in salads, or simply eaten “straight”, they’re not only as delicious as apples, but equally beneficial to your health.

One of my favourite winter meals is a bowl of diced pears and apples, sprinkled with chopped pecan nuts, with a squeeze of lemon juice – now that’s what I call feeding your immune system.

Apples, pears, and most fruit can be preserved by drying them, and the best dried fruit is home-made. Today, many people have mini-dehydrators in which they dry their own fruit – this ensures that there are no preservatives on the fruit, alternatively there are reliable shops that sell preservative-free dried fruit.

Remember that an apple a day is no longer enough, 5 to 6 are better, but a good variety of fresh fruit eaten in abundance daily is the best health insurance you’ll find.

Two different and tasty apple recipes are :

Apple and carob mousse   (Mary-Ann’s recipe book 1) – a caffeine- and sugar-free treat

1 cup macadamia nuts

3 – 5 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples

½ – 1 cup carob powder

4 Tbs (½) pkt) mashed dates

½ cup desiccated coconut

½ tsp vanilla powder or natural vanilla essence

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cereal coffee (optional)

Blend the macadamia nuts in a food processor until a fine paste is formed. Core and quarter apples (the number of apples you use depends on the texture you require). Add to the nuts with the remaining ingredients and blend until the texture resembles a mousse. Spoon into cocktail glasses and chill before serving. Garnish with nuts, mint or fresh cherries. You may like to top the mousse with some whipped cream.


Apple and celery cider   (Mary-Ann’s recipe book 1).

8 parts (8 cups or 8 Tbs) apple juice

4 parts celery juice

1 part lemon juice

pinch of cinnamon (optional)

pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together, adding the spices according to your own taste. Serve in tall glasses.

This cider is especially delicious when chilled ingredients are used.

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