Monday, November 09, 2009

Medieval Apples were Healthier than Modern Ones

A 12th century organically grown apple called Pendragon has higher levels of health- giving plant compounds than modern non organically grown rivals, such as Golden Delicious, Royal Gala and Cox. From peel to core, the mighty Pendragon outperformed 14 other pipsqueak competitors, pharmacist Michael Wakeman told delegates at a recent pharmaceutical conference in Manchester, England.

"Of all the organic varieties, Pendragon was the best apple variety and contained 7 of the 8 kinds of healthy components at the highest levels. In contrast, the non-organic apples consistently had low levels and less major healthy components in both the flesh and the peel," said Wakeman.

Twelve organically grown and three non organically grown varieties of apple were tested for a range of plant compounds with beneficial properties that have been linked to health-giving actions, including cholesterol and blood sugar reduction, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant and anti-ageing effects.

Higher levels of healthy substances were found in all of the organically grown varieties compared to non-organically grown apples, especially in the peel. Runners up to Pendragon were an organically grown variety of Golden Delicious, a cider apple called Collogett Pippin, and old Cornish and Devon apple varieties, Ben's Red and Devonshire Quarrenden.

Mr Wakeman explained that in the absence of pesticides, organically grown apples produce larger amounts of many plant compounds to protect themselves from fungal and other infections, and some of these also have health-giving properties for humans.

"This research confirms that whilst some measures of organic versus non-organic food benefits might appear equivocal, more sophisticated analysis of compounds which are newly recognised as being of importance to good health do show a significant difference.

"Moreover, it demonstrates that these compounds, which are only available from plants, are disappearing from our diet as a result of modern day farming and food production techniques combined with the need to develop produce which meets our desire for perfect shapes and sweeter tastes" he said.