Recently discovered Facts about Apples show that they may have anti-ageing effect.

Were you aware of these facts about apples? Apples originated in the Middle East more than 4000 years ago; fruit and vines have been grown in the UK since the Roman occupation, with specially cultivated apple varieties spreading across Europe to France, arriving in England at around the time of the Norman conquest in 1066. The demise of rural areas and apple growing, commencing in the 13th century with the Black Death, the War of the Roses and repeated droughts, was reversed by Henry VIII who instructed his fruiterer, Richard Harris, to establish the first large scale orchards at Teynham, Kent, scouring the known world for the best varieties.

About 10% of an apple is made up of carbohydrate. Apples contain dietary fibre in their skins and core. About 4% of an apple is made up of vitamins and minerals. The rest of the apple, more than 80%, is made up of water. A medium-sized eating apple contains about 40 calories ­ one kilo of fresh apples provides approximately 2100kJ (500 kcal) of energy. Excluding the peel and core of apples from the diet almost halves the amounts of Vitamin C and dietary fibre available in the whole fruit, but makes very little difference to the sugar content.

Other than the above facts about apples which speak of origin and introduction to various cultures, many of us are also familiar with the adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". But then this may no longer apply to apples having the ability to keep just the flu bug away.

One of the little known facts about apples is the discovery of phloretin, an antioxidant derived from apples; this means that the fruit may also help reduce the risk of skin cancer.

"Phloretin is a powerful antioxidant found to be effective in protecting human skin from the effects of the sun when applied topically," said Dr Sheldon Pinnell, founder of SkinCeuticals. He was the leader of the scientific team that made the discovery after five years of research.

The United States-based skincare brand is the first to combine phloretin with other well-known antioxidants like vitamin C into a single anti-ageing serum called Phloretin CF.

Early clinical studies showed that phloretin - found both in the flesh and skin of apples, as well as in the root bark of apple, pear and grapefruit trees - effectively fights the effects of photo-ageing.

Photo-ageing refers to the ageing of skin by ultraviolet (UV) radiation as a result of repeated exposure to the sun over many years.

A 2006 study published in the Biological And Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that phloretin reduces DNA damage caused by UV radiation by 80 per cent.

In addition, the compound also inhibits the enzyme elastase, which causes wrinkles and sagging skin.

Excessive exposure to UV rays causes skin cells to weaken.The worst outcome of this damage is skin cancer, where skin cells start to multiply abnormally.

Resisting this process are chemical compounds called antioxidants.

Antioxidants guard against photo-ageing by transforming unstable molecules, called free radicals, into unreactive compounds.The tricky part, when using antioxidants in skincare products, is combining them with other chemicals such that their efficacy will not be lowered. Vitamin C, for instance, is unstable and disintegrates after some time.

The development of the patent-pending technology in the formula Phloretin CF, now sold as a skincare product containing a cocktail of three antioxidants - vitamin C, ferulic acid and phloretin - is the cumulation of over 20 years of work, said Dr Pinnell.

However, this breakthrough does not mean that antioxidants can replace sunscreen entirely, he said.

"At this point, I wouldn't say that you can eliminate sunscreen," he said. "Maybe in the future, as antioxidant technology gets better."

However, Dr Pinnell recommends the use of antioxidants in addition to the application of sunscreen in a daily skincare regimen.

"Sunscreen contains a lot of synthetic chemicals," he said. "It works only on the outside, absorbing UV rays.

"Antioxidants, on the other hand, work inside the skin and provide long-term protection."

Having said that, it is important not to overdo things, added Dr Pinnell. This is because UV rays help our skin produce vitamin D that is vital for calcium absorption.

"You can be relatively vitamin D-deficient if you use sunscreen and antioxidants very religiously," he said.With the discovery of phloretin in apples, our knowledge on facts about apples have taken a dramatic turn. Other than general well being, the consumption of fruits such as apples, has shown to hold promise in anti ageing. With greater advancements in research, we may yet discover more facts about apples.

Other than the humble apple, a fruit which is causing greater excitement in the scientific community is the mangosteen. Learn the facts about mangosteen by following this link, facts about apples relating to mangosteen.