Serving Greater Vancouver & the Fraser Valley

Falling into apple season

Photo credit: Nikao Media

by Agnes Chung

As we fall into apple season, BC orchards enjoyed an early, sweet bounty this year. The apple, Canada’s largest cultivated fruit tree crop is synonymous with the interior’s agrarian landscape.  Ambrosia, Spartan and Sunrise, they all have their lineage in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, BC’s main apple growing region.

Where Did Apple Trees Come From?

Did you know the pear, peach, quince, cherry, strawberry and raspberry are relatives of the apple?  They all derived from the Rosacea family.  Apples come in diverse shades of red, green and yellow. DNA analysis points to Central Asia as home to the wild Malus sieversii, ancestor of today’s domesticated apple (Malus domestica).

In his article, Where Did Apple Trees Come From?, Institute for Creation Research science writer, Brian Thomas wrote that researchers found ancestral apple trees in Kazakhstan, Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia, an area close to the Mount Ararat region – the purported resting ground for Noah’s Ark (Genesis 8:4). He wrote, “As a food-bearing plant, it’s reasonable to believe that Noah took on board the ancestor of modern apple trees, from which many apple varieties have since been cultivated.”

Over 7,500 apple varieties flourish worldwide.  The Lady or Api apple being one of the oldest varieties grown. The crab apple is the only native North American species.

Nutritional Bites

As the taste of a juicy, crunchy apple quenches your thirst and sweet craving, it’s also a boost to your health. Apples are phytonutrient-rich with flavonoids (like quercetin); packed with vitamins; minerals and dietary fibre; and sodium, fat, and cholesterol free. Flavonoids, a group of plant-based antioxidant compounds found mainly in the apple’s skin, give the apple its colour, scent and flavour. Levels differ depending on apple cultivar.

Studies have linked apples with decreased risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer and asthma. In the article, Apple Phytochemicals and Their Health Benefits, researchers found that apples have a wide variety of phytonutrients, many of which have strong antioxidant and anticancer activities.

Apples are enjoyed whole, in juice and cider, as a vinegar, sauce or dessert.   Consuming apple seeds in large quantities are not advised due to its cyanide content. Washing the apple skin is vital to removing contaminants especially in non-organic apples, which are ranked among the top fruits on the ‘dirty dozen foods with high pesticide residue’ list. Consuming apple seeds in large quantities is not advised due to its cyanide content.

Top 7 Health Benefits

• Lower heart disease: The quercetin in apples may help prevent chronic inflammation, reduce hypertension, and protect arteries from plaque build-up.

• Reduce risk or boost recovery from respiratory diseases including asthma and bronchitis: quercetin helps protect the lungs from atmospheric pollutants.

• Improve memory and ward off degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s. Red Delicious apples have strong neuro protective effects.

• Bone strengthening: Boron mineral in red apples is beneficial for regulating hormones and preventing osteoporosis.

• Anti-aging: Flavonoid, phloridzin prevents glycation, a common cause of aging.

• Regulate digestive system: Apple pectin (soluble dietary fibre) assists in regulating bowel movements, and is used as a natural remedy for treating digestive disorders.  Pectin is found in the skin, core and pulp of fresh apples.

• Protection against cancer:  UK researchers revealed apple pectin protects against cancer.

With apple season in progress, make a trip to your nearest orchard in the Fraser Valley.  Or embark on a scenic fall foliage drive up to sun-kissed Okanagan, experience a farm to table tour, and stop at vineyards to enjoy delectable wines.



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