On My Youngest Daughter Ai Hsing (Front) Graduation Day

On My Youngest Daughter Ai Hsing (Front) Graduation Day

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Peeling An Apple. Is It Wise?

Recently someone sent me a WhatsApp showing a mechanical apple peeler, and how it can peel many apples rapidly, efficiently and very cleanly.

I replied to tell him that the skin of an apple or any fruit especially highly coloured ones contain the core of their nutritive and even medicinal value, and such a device is doing injustice to Nature, the apple and the most of all, the consumer himself.

The Skin is Wholesome and The Best:

In fact a consumer of a cleanly peeled apple is throwing away the best part of the fruit.
The skin with its tens of dozens of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients of various molecular weights, many of which with low molecular weights below 400 are bioavailable through the human intestinal gut as Nature intended. They are meant for human consumption, but are lost through ignorance and fear of toxicity.

WhatsApp Ignorance:

Following that, a few in my WhatsApp group replied, the reason why they normally remove the skin of an apple is because of the wax. One said he tried to use hot water (I suppose he meant “blanching”), rub it with cloth and tissue paper, but the wax is still there.

Some even wrote using a combination of baking powder and vinegar and all sorts of de-waxing methods. But the wax is still there.

Unfortunately those with no knowledge of even simple inorganic chemistry do not realize that using a combination of baking powder (which is sodium bicarbonate), and vinegar (which is acetic acid) only result in production of carbon dioxide, sodium acetate and water in the reaction.

None of these resultant compounds can remove waxes, whether mineral wax or natural ones. But they believe in such “knowledge” taken from the Internet!!

Finally they found the best way is to skin off the apple, and consume only the white flesh beneath.
This prompts me to write a small explanation in this blog.

Perhaps most people who try to remove waxes on the surface of apples or from the skin of most fruits and vegetables do not know even simple food science, nutrition or chemistry.

I think they do not understand what wax is on the skin of an apple? I think most people think wax is toxic, and is harmful to health.

Simple Household Science:

Let me explain using with just a little organic chemistry, and a bit of physiology.
The wax on the skin of an apple is a natural fruit wax secreted by the apple itself for its own protection.

Most plants, fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, lemon, tomatoes, pumpkins, water melon…etc., etc , do secrete waxes and oils on their skin to protect themselves against water from outside, and internally against moisture loss and subsequently dehydration.

Even animals like ducks, birds, chicken do the same when they peen their features to keep them waterproofs and stay dry and warm.

Even the human skin secrete sebum with its sebaceous glands, and the body oils on our skin is about 26 % wax esters and about 12 % squalene, but mainly triglycerides and less of other free fatty acids.

Wax esters and squalene are unique chemical composition of the sebum on our skin, and are produced as a protective layer to keep the skin moist, and this secretion is not found anywhere else in the body.

So we may say these waxes are natural substances and are mainly made of esters. But then, what are esters?


Now in order to explain what esters are, we need to understand just a little bit of organic chemistry.
Let me explain this in simple language.

Esters are organic compounds formed by the reaction between alcohols and organic acids.
For instance, esters derived from carboxylic acids have the general formula RCOOR’ A simple example will do, such as ethyl ethanoate CH2COOC2H5, and methyl propanoate, C2H5COOCH3.

Esters containing simple hydrocarbon groups are volatile fragrant substances found in most fruits such as in apples, citrus fruits, mangoes, peaches…etc.

Esters as the Fragrance Fruits:

Because of their fragrance, food scientists and food technologists used them as flavouring agents in the food industry.

Similarly, like oils and sebaceous secretion on human skin or the oils from the uropygial gland (preen gland) in birds to preen their features, they are called triesters, meaning they are waxes or natural oil and fats molecules containing three ester groups.

Wax can be solid or semisolid substances. There are classified into two main types. The first type is mineral wax which is a mixture of hydrocarbons with higher molecular weights.
finitely not found naturally in apples or in any fruit or vegetable or rubbed into apples by the fruit producers.

The waxes found in apples and plants and in all animals, are actually esters of fatty acids to protect them from moisture, and these are edible and not toxic.

Do Not Peel an Apple:

So there is no need to scrape off the skin of an apple. Sometimes, apple and other fruit producers do rub in just a drop or two of natural waxes to the apples to preserve and to store their produce for a longer time and for better keeping qualities during handling, transport, and storage, but these are same wax esters they use as the apples themselves, and they are of food grade, not industrial or mineral waxes.
So there is no reason why health conscious consumers should peel away the skin of an apple.

A Holistic Natural Apple:

It is “An (whole and holistic) Apple a Day that Keeps the Doctor Away”
And that’s what Nature intents, not an un-holistic one with its best parts removed. What Nature puts in, let no man put asunder.

I hope I have explained clearly in reachable non-technical language to the ill-informed consumers, including the so-called “nutritionist”, “food toxicologist” and “health and food experts”

“Let the Whole Food be Thy Medicine” (my own quote)

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