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Apples Show Unique Health-Enhancing Properties

Contact: Denise Yockey
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Apples' Protective Ways Revealed in New Research

Apples have long been a symbol of health, and they may be proven newly valuable by some new health research. Researchers Dr. Eric Gershwin and Carl Keen at the University of California, Davis have discovered a new way in which flavonoid-rich apples and apple products protect cells from the type of damage that leads to heart disease and age-related cancers, the Michigan Apple Committee has reported.

The researchers' new findings appear in the May issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.

“We discovered how the unique mix of nutrients found in apples and apple products can actually help improve health, starting at the cellular level,” says Eric Gershwin, professor of medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

According to the researchers, proper communication between cells in the body is vital to every aspect of life. But when that communication is disrupted in some fashion, cells can be damaged or even die, leading to various disease states. In this case, Gershwin and his colleagues found that the distinctive combination of nutrients in apples and apple products was able to protect cells from destruction by fighting off damage caused by unwelcome intruders in the body.

“It's almost like having a spam filter on your computer: the good emails get through and the bad emails get stopped,” remarks Gershwin. “Here, the apple components we observed acted like the spam filter.”

Earlier studies have shown that components in apples and apple products known as flavonoids work as antioxidants, taking up free oxygen radicals that can cause damage to DNA. The UC Davis study takes that research further by looking beyond the beneficial antioxidant effects that apples and apple products provide to recognizing the ability of flavonoids to promote the cellular communication and filter the harmful effects of unwanted intruders.

This research was funded through an unrestricted grant from the US Apple Association and the Apple Products Research and Education Council.