The statement that"an apple a day keeps the doctor away", is literally taken as true and consumers do not mind buying this fruit even at sky high prices varying from Rs 60 to Rs 120 per kg in India. While consuming apple as a part of the daily servings of fruits and vegetables recommended for good health is understandable, how far the health tag attached to it, is justified cannot be easily discerned. No doubt the typical aroma and texture associated with apple are truly enjoyable and its suitability for long term storage under modified atmosphere conditions have made it possible to organize its cultivation and marketing into a successful industry in India. Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh account for almost all the apple production in the country. Consequent to economic liberalization and globalization under the WTO regime, apples grown in USA, Australia, China etc are available in the Indian market though the imported fruits cost almost double compared to that of the domestic produce.
Apple has the reputation of being associated with the healing God of Greeks and Romans Apollo who lived in 700 BC and probably the name must have been derived from this association. Cooked apple was a popular ameliorant for bowel disturbances, lungs and nervous system and ancient physicians Hippocrates and Galen recommended apple for facilitating digestion. Of course these legendary references to apple must have some basis and probably cannot be rubbished straight away. The fact that apple fruit is still revered by many reflects its popularity. With to day's scientific knowledge, it can be safely said that apple is a desirable fruit with some pro-health and healing properties. Many believe that regular consumption of apple helps in over coming anaemia, digestion problems, heart diseases,head aches, eye disorders, kidney stones and many other every day afflictions. There are apples with tints of green, yellow and red. While green apple is considered good for strong bones and teeth, vision and prevention of cancer, yellow ones are associated with heart and eye health, immune system and the red variety is linked to benefits of good memory, anti cancer traits and urinary tract health.
According to fruit 'astrologers', those who like apple are endowed with a personality that reflects their extravagant nature, impulsiveness, persistence, out spoken quality, moderate temper, good organizing capability, quick decision taking ability, travel craze, charming personality and infectious enthusiasm! It is not clear whether such a prediction is based on science or any statistical study. A look at the nutritive profile of apple does not reveal any thing extraordinary quality that qualifies it for any particular mention. Each 100 gm of its edible portion contains 10.39% sugar, 50 kC of energy, 2.4% of dietary fiber (1-1.5% pectin), 0.17% fat, 0.26% protein, besides small levels of micronutrients most predominant being vitamin C, about 4.6 mg% equivalent to just 8% of daily value. But where apple scores over other fruits is the extent of valuable phytochemicals present in it with many health protecting properties. Flavonoids and phenolics contained in apple makes it the second highest ranked source amongst fruits. Querceitin (mostly in the peel portion), catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid in apple have very strong antioxidant effects and especially the relatively high content of free phenolics which are much more easily bioavailable to humans must have conferred on this fruit the awesome power to claim 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'. In fact the antioxidant activity of the phytochemicals in one apple is equivalent to that from 1500 mg of vitamin C.
China is blessed with world's largest apple orchards, its production being 40% of the global out put of 55 million tons worth $ 10 billion while in India J & K and Himachal grows apple to the extent of 2 million tons. Considering that human DNA gets on an average 10000 hits per cell every day which can have high potential for derailing some of the important metabolic functions, apple phytochemicals, with its high density contents of flavonoids and phenolics, can provide the protection when consumed regularly without peeling. Technology for extending the life of apple is well developed in the country and the growers must be supported with necessary infrastructure to market the fruit at affordable prices to make it within reach of the common man of this country.