The green apple on the cover of An Apple a Day caught my eye. But the subtitle caught my breath: The Myths, Misconceptions and Truths about the Foods We Eat. I panicked. I assumed that an apple a day was a good thing. As you can see in the book’s cover photo, there are some startling unhealthy sounding elements in apples.
The author, a scientist named Joe Schwarcz, is the director of the Office of Science and Society at McGill University. He knows his food chemistry. He also knows how to turn a dull technical subject into an entertaining read.
First thing I liked about An Apple a Day is the brevity of the chapters. The book weighs in at 368 pages, but most chapters, or I’d call them essays, average four pages. The reader can jump around the book to suit his interest—or his short attention span. I read about apples, flax, the ubiquitous and expensive acai juice, and plastic wrap.
Turns out, according to Schwarcz, the bad stuff in an apple is so minute it wouldn’t kill a mosquito. But the good stuff includes fibre, vitamins and polyphenols, an antioxidant that has anticancer effects.
The other really good food to eat daily is porridge. Schwarcz muses that it would be interesting to take a look at Papa Bear’s blood test. He says Papa Bear and the Scots got it right with their penchant for oatmeal. Oatmeal, with all its fibre, keeps you feeling full longer. And the soluble fibre can reduce cholesterol.
And hey, he’s not talking about instant oatmeal. He’s talking rolled oats. Or better, steal-cut oats. The kind you have to actually cook. I add oat bran to my rolled oats and then top it with ground flax, sliced almonds and blueberries.
Mmm, blueberries. Blueberries, says Schwarcz, are not a wonder food. A study demonstrated that very old rats fed blueberry extract managed to walk on a ledge for 11 seconds. I’m not kidding. This is the stuff that scientists study.
Schwarcz says no one knows how many blueberries we’d have to eat to lower blood cholesterol. But like him, apples and oatmeal topped with flax and blueberries are regular food in my home.