Why does an apple a day keep the doctor away?

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If you compare the nutrition in apples to some other fruits you may find this old adage hard to believe.
Acerola cherries, bananas, guavas, breadfruit and kiwi fruit all have higher levels of vitamins and minerals on average by weight than the humble apple. So why has the apple been singled out as nature's doctor?

I have wondered about this over the years as I've looked at the nutritional values of many foods and the other day it came to my attention that apples contain more lysine than other fruits that grow naturally in the northern hemisphere where the saying originated.

Lysine is a very important amino acid that the body uses to create tissue protein as well as facilitating wound healing. It also helps the body form collagen  (the connective tissue in skin, bones, cartilage and tendons) as well as Carnitine which converts fatty acids into energy.  In addition Lysine helps the body fight viral infections. Lysine is one of the amino acids that is not created in the body so needs to be sourced from food and this is not normally a problem as most protein-rich foods (in particular dairy products) contain Lysine.

However, the ratio between Lysine and Arginine is what really matters here. Arginine is another important amino acid that can be made in the body and it is useful for treating bladder inflammations, congestive heart failure, erectile dysfunction and angina. It also boosts the immune system. Both Lysine and Arginine can stimulate the release of human growth hormone. Arginine is found in abundance in grains and nuts.

It seems that viruses such as herpes (i.e. cold sores and shingles) need Arginine to replicate themselves. Research has yet to be done to determine whether this is true for other viruses. If foods rich in Arginine have been consumed, this can trigger a virus outbreak. Lysine fights viral infections but there needs to be more Lysine than Arginine in the body for this to work.

So back to the apple. An apple contains a ratio of 1:2 Arginine to Lysine. Maybe this is the apple's secret. Eat an apple a day and you will be supplementing your body with Lysine to fight viruses. Perhaps people who were unable to source enough protein-rich food found that apples kept them healthy and virus free.

ps. There is another benefit in eating apples that I would like to share with you at a later stage and this concerns cancer prevention. Will keep you posted.

1 comment:

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