There’s nothing quite like a biting on a crunchy and savory organic apple, especially on a hot summer day when its refreshing taste really helps with the heat.
And today, there’s one more reason to munch on apples, as a newly published study by University of Iowa has found out that ursolic acid (a wax compound found in the apple’s skin) may protect from obesity and some of its harmful effects by increasing the amount of muscle and brown fat (two tissues recognized for their calorie-burning properties).
The University of Iowa team studied mice on a high-fat diet for several weeks. Some of the animals also received ursolic acid as part of their diet.
The researchers noticed, unexpectedly, that mice whose diet included ursolic acid actually ate more food than mice not getting the supplement but, nonetheless, gained less weight and their blood sugar level remained almost normal. On top of that, mice treated with ursolic-acid did not develop obesity-related fatty liver disease.
Further study showed that ursolic acid consumption increased skeletal muscle, increasing the animal’s strength and endurance, and, furthermore, boosted the amount of brown fat.
Since both muscle and brown fat burn calorie, mice that were fed with ursolic acid burned much more calories than those who didn’t.
"Our study suggests that ursolic acid increases skeletal muscle and brown fat leading to increased calorie burning, which in turn protects against diet-induced obesity, pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease,"s sai Christopher Adams, M.D., Ph.D., UI associate professor of internal medicine and a Faculty Scholar at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the UI. "Brown fat is beneficial and people are trying to figure out ways to increase it. At this point, we don't know how ursolic acid increases brown fat, or if it increases brown fat in healthy mice. And, most importantly, we don't know if ursolic acid will benefit people. Our next step is to determine if ursolic acid can help patients."
Until quite recently, researchers believed that only infants had brown fat, which then disappeared during childhood. However, improved imaging techniques have shown that adults do retain a very small amount of the substance mostly in the neck and between the shoulder blades. Some studies have linked increased levels of brown fat with lower levels of obesity and healthier levels of blood sugar and blood lipid, leading to the suggestion that brown fat may be helpful in preventing obesity and diabetes.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is the old-saying, that today we can remaster it as “An apple with skin keeps the doctor away!”
Apparently apple’s health benefits go well beyond what we knew so far. And I have the feeling that the more researchers will dig into it the more they’ll find out.
While we wait to find out more about it we can certainly make sure to eat apples with the peel on. My advice is to hit the farmers’ market and get 100% organic, natural, crunchy, and awesomely tasting apples that you can bite away to get all the health benefits!
The Iron You