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Apples have existed as a wild fruit since prehistoric times and have been cultivated for over 3,000 years. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Etruscans were among it’s early cultivators. The apple tree, originally from southwestern Asia and Eastern Europe, is now grown in almost every corner of the globe: from Japan to Madagascar to South Africa, New Zealand, Russia, England, France, China and across much of North America. Over the centuries, they have been cultivated and hybridized. In today’s market, there are over 7,000 varieties of apples. Apples have received quite a name for themselves.
In the bible story of Adam and Eve, the apple was given a pivotal role. In Norse mythology, magic apples were said to keep people young forever. An apple falling from a tree helped Sir Isaac Newton invent the Universal Laws of Gravitation. John Chapman became known as “Johnny Appleseed” walked barefoot across an area of 100,000 miles planting apple trees that would provide generations of early settlers with food and livelihood. During the California Gold Rush, apples often fetched more than $100 a bushel due to their versatility, durability and capacity to be preserved by drying. The custom of giving teachers apples originated when public school teachers were paid with whatever the community could afford, often in food or goods.
Apples are an excellent source of pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber which is known to lower blood cholesterol and reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol produced in the liver. Apple’s insoluble fiber works much like a bran, latching onto the LDL cholesterol in the digestive tract and removing it from the body. Research has shown that eating 2 large apples a day can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 16%. Apples are also rich in flavonoid. Extensive research has shown that flavonoids are been found to prevent heart disease. Apple skin is the source of a potent flavonoid called Quercetin. The benefits of Quercetin are derived from it’s antioxidant capabilities, especially when teamed with another antioxidant found in apples, Vitamin C, to increase the body’s immune defenses. The combination of Quercetin and Vitamin C also protects the body against cancer. Quercetin has been shown to decrease allergic reactions and inhibit some inflammatory responses including arthritis and asthma.