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      Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits

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          Abstract

          Evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, and phytochemicals including phenolics, flavonoids and carotenoids from fruits and vegetables may play a key role in reducing chronic disease risk. Apples are a widely consumed, rich source of phytochemicals, and epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of apples with reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes. In the laboratory, apples have been found to have very strong antioxidant activity, inhibit cancer cell proliferation, decrease lipid oxidation, and lower cholesterol. Apples contain a variety of phytochemicals, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, all of which are strong antioxidants. The phytochemical composition of apples varies greatly between different varieties of apples, and there are also small changes in phytochemicals during the maturation and ripening of the fruit. Storage has little to no effect on apple phytochemicals, but processing can greatly affect apple phytochemicals. While extensive research exists, a literature review of the health benefits of apples and their phytochemicals has not been compiled to summarize this work. The purpose of this paper is to review the most recent literature regarding the health benefits of apples and their phytochemicals, phytochemical bioavailability and antioxidant behavior, and the effects of variety, ripening, storage and processing on apple phytochemicals.

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          Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging.

          Metabolism, like other aspects of life, involves tradeoffs. Oxidant by-products of normal metabolism cause extensive damage to DNA, protein, and lipid. We argue that this damage (the same as that produced by radiation) is a major contributor to aging and to degenerative diseases of aging such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune-system decline, brain dysfunction, and cataracts. Antioxidant defenses against this damage include ascorbate, tocopherol, and carotenoids. Dietary fruits and vegetables are the principal source of ascorbate and carotenoids and are one source of tocopherol. Low dietary intake of fruits and vegetables doubles the risk of most types of cancer as compared to high intake and also markedly increases the risk of heart disease and cataracts. Since only 9% of Americans eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the opportunity for improving health by improving diet is great.
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            Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals.

            Cardiovascular disease and cancer are ranked as the first and second leading causes of death in the United States and in most industrialized countries. Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer disease, cataracts, and some of the functional declines associated with aging. Prevention is a more effective strategy than is treatment of chronic diseases. Functional foods that contain significant amounts of bioactive components may provide desirable health benefits beyond basic nutrition and play important roles in the prevention of chronic diseases. The key question is whether a purified phytochemical has the same health benefit as does the whole food or mixture of foods in which the phytochemical is present. Our group found, for example, that the vitamin C in apples with skin accounts for only 0.4% of the total antioxidant activity, suggesting that most of the antioxidant activity of fruit and vegetables may come from phenolics and flavonoids in apples. We propose that the additive and synergistic effects of phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables are responsible for their potent antioxidant and anticancer activities, and that the benefit of a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is attributed to the complex mixture of phytochemicals present in whole foods.
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              Fruit, vegetables, and cancer prevention: a review of the epidemiological evidence.

              Approximately 200 studies that examined the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and cancers of the lung, colon, breast, cervix, esophagus, oral cavity, stomach, bladder, pancreas, and ovary are reviewed. A statistically significant protective effect of fruit and vegetable consumption was found in 128 of 156 dietary studies in which results were expressed in terms of relative risk. For most cancer sites, persons with low fruit and vegetable intake (at least the lower one-fourth of the population) experience about twice the risk of cancer compared with those with high intake, even after control for potentially confounding factors. For lung cancer, significant protection was found in 24 of 25 studies after control for smoking in most instances. Fruits, in particular, were significantly protective in cancers of the esophagus, oral cavity, and larynx, for which 28 of 29 studies were significant. Strong evidence of a protective effect of fruit and vegetable consumption was seen in cancers of the pancreas and stomach (26 of 30 studies), as well as in colorectal and bladder cancers (23 of 38 studies). For cancers of the cervix, ovary, and endometrium, a significant protective effect was shown in 11 of 13 studies, and for breast cancer a protective effect was found to be strong and consistent in a meta analysis. It would appear that major public health benefits could be achieved by substantially increasing consumption of these foods.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nutr J
                Nutrition Journal
                BioMed Central (London )
                1475-2891
                2004
                12 May 2004
                : 3
                : 5
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Food Science and Institute of Comparative and Environmental Toxicology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-7201 USA
                Article
                1475-2891-3-5
                10.1186/1475-2891-3-5
                442131
                15140261
                0e507b26-c4e4-481c-ba97-2d6459e87eb2
                Copyright © 2004 Boyer and Liu; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original URL.
                History
                : 20 January 2004
                : 12 May 2004
                Categories
                Review

                Nutrition & Dietetics
                cardiovascular disease,apples,cancer,fruit,antioxidants,phytochemicals,phenolics,flavonoids

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