An Apple a Day . . . for Stronger Muscles?
You’re already familiar with the phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but did you know that apples are good for more than just a healthy immune system?
The next time you need a low calorie snack before or after your muscle-building session, eating an apple a day may be the key to your success, particularly if you keep the peel on.
New studies are revealing that a chemical in apple peels offers a wide variety of health benefits, including building muscle and keeping the weight at bay.
What’s So Great About Apple Peels?
Although you may be in love with the juice and even the flesh of an apple, a good majority of the nutrients are stored naturally in the peel. According to researcher Christopher Adams, “Ursolic acid (the chemical that makes an apple peel shiny) is an interesting natural compound. It’s part of a normal diet as a component of apple peels.”
Ursolic acid enhances the effects of insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1. These two hormones are key to muscle growth and are linked with the production of growth hormone (GH).
Originally Dr. Adams set out to find a compound that would stop muscles from wasting, keeping pensioners strong as they age. “Muscle wasting is a frequent companion of illness and aging. It prolongs hospitalization, delays recoveries and in some cases prevents people from going back home.”
Consequently, he studied a pool of 1,300 different chemicals that could potentially counteract this effect, and surprisingly, Ursolic acid made the cut.
“Given the lack of therapies for muscle atrophy, we speculate that Ursolic acid might be investigated as a potential therapy for illness-related and age-related muscle atrophy,” Dr. Adams explains.
Mice fed with Ursolic acid not only had lower levels of cholesterol and other blood fats, but they also had an average of one-third less body fat than placebo controlled groups. Ursolic acid also induced muscle growth in normal mice, improving skeletal muscles and muscle fibers significantly. The study also observed that without Ursolic acid, fasting mice experienced a 9% decrease in muscle weight.
Additional studies showed that fruit flies who received apple extracts lived 10% longer and found it easier to walk, climb, and move as they aged.
And, when women were questioned about their diets, researchers observed that those who ate apples regularly were 20% less likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes.
Where Else Can You Find Ursolic Acid?
Ursolic acid, though particularly concentrated in apple peels, can also be found in cranberries, prunes, basil, oregano, and thyme.
Dr. Adams adds, “We know that if you eat a balanced diet like mom told us to eat you get this material. People who eat junk food don’t get this.”
How Much Ursolic Acid Do You Need?
Unfortunately, the studies are still in their preliminary stages, so it’s unknown how much Ursolic acid is necessary for building muscles and fighting fat. If high concentrations are needed, then you may have to take a supplement to get the necessary amounts rather than simply munching on an apple a day.
Keep your eyes peeled (but not your apples) for more information about this new study.