Apple: Facts about Apple and Health Benefits
The poorest labourer would spend his last rupee to get it for his sick child. The Bible begins with man and women eating it. Newton discovered some basic laws of science with its helps. What is the magic of this fruit – The Apple? Why is it one of the most popular fruits in the world?
Mankind was familiar with the apple as a fruit from times immemorial. However, they called it by the very unromantic name ‘Sour Crab’. Botany gives a more musical name to this crunchy fruit: Malus sylvestris. In hindi, the apple is known as Seb.
The apple can be called an exotic fruit for it is believed to have first thrived in Persia. Now, most temperate regions of the world are stocked with apple orchard. Wild varieties of crab apple can be still found in remote slopes of the Himalayas. Modern varieties of apple were introduced to India on a large scale in 1887 when McAlexander Coitts first planted an apple orchard in Simla. The pear is close cousin of the apple and sometimes they are mistake for each other.
Apples grow best in regions with very cold winters and have snow fall. In India they are grown mainly in Kashmir, Kulu Valley and Kumoan. To a certain extent, apple orchard thrive in South India in Bangalore and the Nilgiris. End of August to late October is the season for this fruit.
The fruit varies in size, shape and color according to the variety. Elongated pear shaped and perfect rounds are common. The color varies from leaf green, golden yellow, deep red, to yellowish red. Fruit are sour and sweet according to variety. Sour varieties are used for cocking and preserves. Some apples are more crunchy while other are more mealy; color of the skin is not always a good indicator of the ripeness of this fruit. Overripe fruits often spoil and become unfit for eating. Bad handling and bad storage also tend to spoil them. However, apples can be stored for considerably longer time than most other fruits.
There are various legends associated with apple which have given it a special prestige. Johny apple seed of the USA is also a famous legend. In the pioneering days of America, Johny planted apple seeds wherever he went and that is why the US is one of the biggest apple growers in the world today!
If we consider its nutritive value, the apple does not compare favorably with the other popular fruits of India, particularly with reference to cost. The apple contains practically no vitamin A or C. Mango and Papaya are far superior in their carotene content as compared to apples. As compared to 100gm of amla, which has 600mg of vitamin C, 100gm of apple has less than 2 mg of this vitamin. Even the Banana contains 7 mg of vitamin C and 78 mcg of Carotene.
Apple have very small amounts of mineral nutrients to their credit. Their iron content is just 1 mg per 100 gm. Apples contain fair amounts of calcium and phosphorus, but the more easily available and cheaper sitephal and sapota contain more quantities of these mineral salts. Calcium available from Apple is equivalent to that from guava. However, citrus fruits are much better sources of calcium and vitamin C. An average sized apple weight about 100 g.
Apples were stored in English ships in the middle ages for it was believed that the fruits prevented scurvy – a disease due to deficiency of vitamin C. However, lemons were later found to be more useful. Fruits such as banana, sapota, sitaphal, contain much more energy than do apples.
Apple is a fair source of fibre. Fibre is a term used to refer to the indigestible carbohydrates in our diet. It is also known as ‘roughage’. Diet should contain enough roughage to enable proper elimination. Roughage in diet is said to protect a person from digestive disorders and other ailments of the alimentary canal. Fibre also gives bulk to the diet.
Perhaps it is this quality of the apple that is said to keep a doctor away. This would be more true for people from Western Countries where diet contains very little roughage because of the use of refined foods. Thus, the fibre in their diet is provided by fruits. When apple pieces are exposed to the air, certain chemical substances such as tannins in the fruit make some other nutrients combine with the oxygen in the atmosphere. The reaction causes the brown colouring of exposed apple pieces. When apple pieces turn brown, vitamin C in the fruit is destroyed. The ‘browning’ of apples varies from variety to variety. Some apples turn more brown at the core than at the surface. Browning can be avoided if pieces are soaked in a salt solution.
Apples can be preserved by slicing and drying in the sun. But this destroys even the small amounts of some of the nutrients. It is better to make jams and jellies of the fruits. Apple can easily be made into such sweet preserves because it has a high pectin content. Apple can easily be made into juice and fermented to make cider and brandy. Fresh apple juice is an amber-coloured liquid with a mild and deliciate flavor. The juice is considered as good for diarrhea and peptic ulcer. It is also used for infant feeding.
Apple butter can be made by cooking apples in water till they become very soft and then passing the pulp through a fine mesh. Spices and sugar can be added to improve taste. In India, Murabba is made from apples. It is popularly believed that apple murabba acts as a stimulant for the heart and relieves mental strain; however, no scientific evidence is available to supplement this belief.
Nutritive value per 100 gm of Apple
Energy – 59 Kcal
Calcium – 10 mg
Phosphorus – 14 mg
Iron – 1 mg
Vitamin C – 1 mg
Fibre – 1 gm
Sodium – 28 mg
Potassium – 75 mg.