The Lung & Short Of It…

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There’s one fruit in particular that your lungs love. It’s round, it’s red, and it’s really delicious.

Give up? It’s apples. This Superman of fruits is packed full of vitamins and phytochemicals that may reduce the risk of asthma and improve your overall lung capacity. How many should you eat?
The Flavonoid Fruit
In a study, people who ate at least five apples a week had better lung function than the people who noshed less frequently on this crunchy fruit. However many you decide to munch, get the most out of them by eating the peel, too. That’s where most of the health-helping flavonoids — like quercetin, catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins — reside.

There’s another way apples may help you breathe easier: by loosening your waistband. Eating a piece of fruit before each meal may help to melt pounds away.

In a recent study, women who ate a small apple or pear before each meal lost more weight than women who skipped the fruit but followed the same reduced-calorie diet. Fiber-filled fruits help to satiate hunger, which probably results in lower calorie intake from the meal, researchers speculate. In addition to apples and pears, other fruits that are good sources of fiber include strawberries, raspberries, and peaches. Fiber takes longer for your body to digest compared to other energy forms. Women should try to get at least 25 grams of fiber per day in their diet. Men may need even more fiber — about 38 grams per day.

Not Created Equal
Not all apples pack the same antioxidant punch. Researchers recently assessed the antioxidant capacity of eight different apple varieties and found Red Delicious apples to be highest in two powerful flavonoids, epicatechin and procyanidin. These flavonoids are especially abundant in apple peels, so wash them well and eat the skins.

All apples pack a health punch, regardless of variety. Although much of the nutritional punch of apples is found in the skin, certain nutrients reside in the flesh, too. In recent studies, researchers found two powerful flavonoids in Red Delicious apples, but they were mainly in the skins. Another compound with strong antioxidant activity — hydroxycinnamic acid — was found in the flesh. Two phenols found in the apples, epicatechins and procyanidins, have superior antioxidant capacity and may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other conditions. Before you eat your apple, wash it thoroughly under running water with a vegetable brush to remove wax and contaminants.