• Beating the winter germs..with an apple?

        apples Borough market‘Adam and Eve ate the first vitamins, including the package’ so said American pharmacist and MD E.R. Squibb; and he wasn’t wrong!

         It’s that time of year again. The temperature outside is going up and down like a yo-yo, the radiators are going on, and with it the hankies are out;  so how can a simple apple help?

        Winter coughs and colds are generally caused by viruses which can spread rapidly as the weather closes in and we are in closer proximity to one another. Did you know, for example, that infectious droplets from a sneeze can travel at 100mph? Whilst a heavy cold may not necessarily be life threatening, it can make you feel pretty rough, and can have more serious consequences for the very young, the elderly, or anyone with a weak immune system.

        The best way to approach the winter germ season is to build your defences to fight back naturally when you become exposed to these viruses. Your immune system needs around 20 very specific micro-nutrients to function effectively, and Vitamins C and A are just two of particular benefit. Maintaining a healthy gut by eating plenty of fibre is also vital since a large part of your immune system is based in the gut and this immune defence mechanism is controlled by colonies of ‘good’ bacteria.

        So to the humble apple is a rich source of these important immune-boosting nutrients. Here’s what it contains and what it can do for you:

        • Vitamin C – the ‘master’ nutrient which is integral to all parts of the immune system. It helps white blood cells replicate, and these are the cells which form our internal defence army for fighting infection. This clever vitamin is also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and has anti-inflammatory properties.
        • Vitamin A (found in apples as beta-carotene) is also antiviral and antibacterial, and also has antioxidant properties to help scavenge harmful free radicals which can cause damage in the body.
        • Vitamin B; particularly B6, helps support the thymus gland – the gland in the body which produces the immune cells which fight infection.
        • The apple skin also contains pectin – a soluble fibre which helps promote good bacteria levels in the gut; hence why eating the whole package is important.

        sliced apple

        The best bit about apples is, they are also low in calories, cholesterol and saturated fat, and can help stabilise blood sugar levels; all important factors in maintaining a healthy weight.

        Different varieties of English apples are grown year round, so you should always be able to find a home grown variety whatever the season.

        So next time you are doing your weekly grocery shop, make sure you include a bag of apples; after all there’s a great deal of truth in the adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”


        To find out which English apples are currently in season, visit www.englishapplesandpears.co.uk

        For ideas on how to include apples in your cooking, visit my Recipes