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by Barbara Minton
See all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton

(The Best Years in Life) Most of us have grown up thinking an apple a day really does keep the doctor away, but that may not be true anymore.  Today conventionally grown apples sold in the U.S. are likely to have been treated with diphenylamine (DPA), a chemical pesticide that allows apples to lie in cold storage for up to a year before they appear in the produce section of your local grocery store. In 2012, the EU banned DPA when manufacturers were unable to prove that it did not pose a health threat.  In the U.S. it appears to be full steam ahead for DPA treatment of apples and also pears.  

Tests of raw apples conducted by USDA scientists in 2010 showed DPA on 80 percent of fruits tested, with an average concentration of 0.43 parts per million.

DPA can prevent blackening or browning of fruit skin while in cold storage.  But in animals DPA targets the red blood cell system and can cause congestion of the spleen and hemosiderosis, a form of iron overload disorder resulting in the accumulation of hemosiderin. Changes in liver and kidney function have also been detected after longer exposure. Animal reproductive consequences of DPA include reduced litter size and possible mutagenic or teratogenic effects.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms of poisoning with DPA include eczema, tachycardia, hypertension, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, blood in the urine, and bladder injury.

A study of DPA metabolism in treated apples observed that DPA penetrated from the surface into the pulp of the fruit, and after 40 weeks the pulp contained 32% of the pesticide residue.  This is the reason that year after year apples head the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Dirty Dozen list, the twelve fruits or vegetables having the highest pesticide load.

DPA has environmental consequences too.  Although it has low short-term toxicity to birds, it is extremely toxic to aquatic organisms. 

The first generation of DPA was registered with the U.S. government in 1962.  Since then the World Health Organization (WHO) has evaluated its safety several times, with a focus on impurities that could be more toxic than DPA itself. However recently, the organization has said exposure was unlikely to present a public health concern.

In addition to apples and pears, DPA can be found in conventional apple juice, applesauce and other products containing apples and pears. Americans eat nearly 10 pounds of raw apples every year. Statistics are not available as to the amount they ingest from processed products containing apples or pears.

One of the primary concerns of the European Commission in evaluating DPA was the presence on apples and pears of nitrosamines, a group of potent carcinogens.  In 1998, the EPA discovered nitrosamine as an impurity in DPA.  There have been other studies that detected nitrosamines on apples treated with DPA.


Keep eating apples and pears!

All this is a shame because apples and pears are mighty fruits that deliver significant health benefits to those who eat them. In particular they are storehouses of quercetin and boron. 

Quercetin, a flavonol, is the yellow pigment found in apples and pears.  It is one of natures most potent antihistamines with tremendous anti-inflammatory capability.  Studies have shown that quercetin fights asthma, allergies, hay fever and hives, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, interstitial cystitis, prostatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. 

Quercetin is being acknowledged as one of nature's most powerful weight loss aids.  Fat is now being recognized as a virtual beehive of metabolic and endocrine activity, producing hormones, inflammatory cytokines, and other molecules that influence heath for the better of worse.  Fat tissue mass is primarily new fat cells, their accumulation of triglycerides and their programmed death by a process known as apoptosis.  Quercetin is showing evidence of being able to control all these aspects of fat.

As an antioxidant, quercetin inhibits damage to fats that safeguard the cells of the nervous system.  It can even help in recovering motor function after a spinal cord compression injury. 

Boron is a trace mineral needed by the body in only minuscule amounts, but it is important in working with calcium, magnesium and vitamin D to help prevent osteoporosis.  Boron helps stop blood clots and congestive heart failure, and maintains proper cell membrane function and plasma lipid levels. Boron improves brain function and cognitive performance, and decreases chances of fungal infection.  It has repeatedly been shown to be instrumental in cancer prevention and treatment.

So don't throw up your hands at this news about DPA in apples!  Buy organic, buy directly from a local grower, or install some apple and pear trees in your own back yard.  You won't want to miss out on the many benefits of these two fruits.

See also:

Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Produce List for 2014

Canadian Firm Ready to Unleash Genetically Engineered Frankenapples in U.S.

New Study Finds that Pesticides Double the Risk of ADHD in Our Children

For more information:

Join Us and Get Your Favorite Organic Foods & Non-GMO Brands Delivered to Your Door!

U.S. Conventionally Grown Apples Drenched in Pesticide Banned in Europe

About the Author:

Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.

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