Thank you and Happy Birthday, Johnny Appleseed – September 26th

Where does the “apple a day, keeps the doctor away” come from. There were two different sources for this noted in my research. The first was that it was a Welsh proverb and the second was that this became a marketing slogan in the early 1900s to offset the concern that apple sales would go down with the temperance movement; until the 1900s apples were more widely known and used for their cider, an early hard cider.

However, the nutritional value of apples has come to the forefront. Apples are viewed today with many health benefits. A look at the nutritional value of a medium sized apple reveals:
• Calories: 95
• Carbs: 25 grams
• Fiber: 4 grams
• Vitamin C: 14% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
• Potassium: 6% of the RDI
• Vitamin K: 5% of the RDI
And, this same serving provides 2–4% of the RDI for manganese, copper, and the vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and B6. 1
Apples also contain polyphenols which are micronutrients packed with antioxidants and health benefits.

By the way, it is noted that there is greater nutritional value when eating a raw apple with its skin versus a peeled apple. Therefore wash well and if possible, consider eating organic apples.

Beyond nutritional content, apples may be helpful in boosting our health in the following ways:

● Weight loss. They’re also particularly filling due to their high fiber content.
● Heart health. They’re high in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. They also have polyphenols, which are linked to lower blood pressure and stroke risk.
● Lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This is possibly due to their polyphenol antioxidant content.

Plus more benefits! Check out the healthline website for details and additional benefits. 1

How did the apple get so popular? Was Johnny Appleseed a real person or a legend?

He was definitely a real person, John Chapman, but he also became a legend with his wandering ways and outdoor lifestyle.

John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, was born on September 26, 1776. He is began his journey as a pioneer nurseryman in 1802. He is credited for bringing apples to the areas now known as – Pennsylvania, Ohio, W. Virginia, Illinois, Indiana. He would take the leftover cider mash, which included the seeds and transport them to areas ahead of the pioneer settlers. In addition, he also brought “ many Old World plants into the country; there was a small pharmacopoeia of medicinal herbs, too and quite a few weeds” 2

In his book The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan devotes the first chapter to Johnny Appleseed. He follows his path from western PA through the Ohio Valley, an amazing river journey in the early 1800s. Pollan describes Chapman as a person of contradictions – “ Chapman combined the flinty toughness of a Daniel Boone with the gentleness of a
Hindu.” 2

Pollan also examines the “apple” itself. He describes the uniqueness of the apple – “slice an apple through its equator, you will find five small chambers arrayed in a perfectly symmetrical starburst – a pentagram. Each of the chambers holds a seed (occasionally two)” Pollan goes on to write that there are two facts that we should understand about the seeds: First, they contain a small quantity of cyanide, probably a defense the apple evolved to discourage animals from biting into them. “ The second, more important fact concerns their genetic contents. Every seed in that apple contains the genetic instructions for a completely new and different apple tree, one that if planted would bear only the most glancing resemblance to its parents.” 2

A simple apple – fascinating history, special genetic contents and, potentially a great boost to wellness.

2-Pollan, Michael, The Botany of Desire, Random House, 2001, pages 10, 33, 41

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