What item at the grocery store or farmers’ market is tempting and wholesome at the same time? Well, the humble apple, for one.
What do apples do to keep the doctor away? Nutritionist Victor Fulgoni found that eating apples improves our circulation and insulin levels. For instance, there is a 27 percent reduction in risk factors for metabolic syndrome in those whose diets include whole-apple products, including applesauce (my favorite).
The Nobel Prize-winning poet from Chile, Pablo Neruda wrote in his “Oda la manzana” (translated by Ken Krabbenhoft):
are the object
of my praise.
I want to fill
with your name.
I want to eat you whole.
Pablo Neruda has the right idea… by eating the flesh and skin of la manzana, we are getting a mix of antioxidants that work synergistically to prevent hardening of the arteries and even cancer. Its pectin, a soluble fiber, helps lower cholesterol both in the blood and the liver. An apple a day can also prevent glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Combine these health benefits with the many luscious ways to prepare apples and you can see why Johnny Appleseed preached that “fruit is next to religion.”
These fruits were first cultivated by Greeks and Romans in 300 BCE. Johnny Appleseed, otherwise known as John Chapman, helped spread them around in the early 1800s by planting orchards in the Midwest. Now we can find apples growing throughout the United States, with almost three million tons of them grown in Washington state alone.
Neruda, in his ode, called for even more abundance of this glorious orb:
a Mississippi River
and I want to see
gathered on its banks
the world’s entire population
united and reunited
in the simplest act we know:
I want us to bite into an apple.
Apples for peace! Thank you, orchards. Thank you for your fruit–and our health.