Apples are at the core, if you’ll forgive the pun, of our lives in England. They are always around, in many guises, in every shop, canteen and café. They were in our school lunchboxes, and we put them, in turn, in our children’s. Even though tastes may be changing from traditional favourites like Cox’s to modern Braeburn or Gala, we still love them, munching away at 70,000 home-grown tonnes a year (and that’s not counting the imports!).
Here on Apple Island, the branches are hanging low with heavy fruit, many of them varieties as yet unidentified. They are looking wonderful: some plump red and juicy, heart-shaped, others a gentler, rounder russet; some are clearly eaters and others cookers. And the plan is to make juice, loads of it. Those Little Herbs will find it hard to resist!
What is very clear, as we search for new information, is that the apple is – yes! – a superfood.
Apples are packed to bursting with all sorts of wonderful medicinal properties: that old adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ has truth. Proven truth. Not just the experience of generations - which seems rarely to satisfy the pendants - but proper scientific proof. Scientists have found, among the apple-y benefits: improvement of neurological health (University of Quebec); help in preventing dementia (Cornell University); prevention of stroke (Finnish public health study of 9,208 people); lowered levels of bad cholesterol by 23% over 6 months (The Florida State University); reduction of the risk of diabetes (cohort study of 187,382 people in the US, UK and Singapore) and breast cancer (Cornell University); apples are just as good as statins in preventing vascular attack in the over-50s (University of Oxford). Shall I go on, or are you convinced!?
So what’s in these amazing health bubbles? The goodie list starts with Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and is the powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage alongside phytonutrients;. Vitamin B-complex which maintains healthy red blood cells and the nervous system. Then there is dietary fibre for a healthy digestive system; and trace elements potassium, phosphorus and useful bone-forming calcium. And only 52 calories! Munch on.