The following are examples of foods grown for increased nutrient content, also known as Nutrition Grown™. In most of these examples, the “Beyond Organic” Nutrition Grown™ foods are compared to USDA values from the current food nutrient database.
Blood Glucose Response to Apples
Does the cultivation system in which apples are grown affect blood glucose response from the resulting fruits? Field reports from diabetic patients and preliminary trial data suggest this may be so. For example, a diabetic patient in Washington state had been told by his doctor to not eat fruit because it would spike his blood glucose. He monitored his responses regularly at home with his own blood glucose meter. He was surprised to find that apples and cherries from orchards that were managed with nutrient-rich methods did not spike his blood glucose, yet the same fruit cultivars which were conventionally grown would spike his blood glucose. His doctor did not believe him, so to prove his theory the patient sat in the doctor’s office, ate a bowl of well-grown cherries and tested his blood glucose response there on the spot!
When I heard the field reports, the nutritionist in me was certainly intrigued and I immediately began planning an experimental trial for myself. I got some apples shipped from Washington state and bought a blood glucose meter. Let me help you understand the way the testing was done. I ate apples and tested my blood glucose response on 3 different days. The reason for this is that I had to start in the morning with a fasting blood glucose as a baseline. This means I had not eaten anything since the night before so that my blood glucose would be near the same level at the start of each day of the trial. So the first thing each morning was getting my baseline reading, then I ate the apples (the same amount each time) and tested my blood glucose every 10 minutes. The chart below shows the results. The response to the well-managed apples is the green line. What was extremely surprising was that the apples with the highest level of sugars (measured in degrees Brix) had the lowest blood glucose effect! This was completely counter-intuitive! Apparently, when apples are grown well, they are able to taste wonderfully sweet and yet not spike the blood glucose.
The red line on the chart represents the glycemic response to the lower brix apples. Even though the apples had less sugar, they caused the blood glucose to rise past 140 mg/dl. The blue line, representing the medium brix apples peaked between the others, which seems logical. Notice though, that the blood glucose dropped to near baseline quickly, whereas the higher brix green line continued on a low plateau for an extended period–just what we want from a food–sustained energy.
I did perform many other trials with various apples for comparison. I learned, for example, that just because an apple achieves a high brix reading does not mean that it will show a low glycemic effect. The method of growing appears to be key. What factors in these well-grown apples are responsible for the effect? That is one of the next research questions to be answered. This is it–the cutting edge of research!
Another Blood Glucose Trial with Apples
Here’s another trial with Fuji apples–Conventional Growing vs. Biological “Beyond Organic” type growing methods. The conventional apples’ blood glycemic response (red line) spiked up quickly to its peak in only 20 minutes. It also descended quickly, going well below baseline and remaining there. These levels below baseline indicate a hypoglycemic response. Hypoglycemia can make one feel hungry, tired, and foggy-headed.
By contrast, the “Beyond Organic” Biologically-Grown apples’ blood glycemic response (blue line) had a much slower rise to peak–60 minutes. The peak was quite a bit lower at approximately 110 mg/dl, as opposed to the conventional apples’ glycemic peak at approximately 122 mg/dl. Furthermore, the “Beyond Organic” glycemic response curve dipped only slightly below baseline before quickly returning to normal levels.
I find this type of work absolutely fascinating and feel that it has great potential for not only diabetics, those with hypoglycemic and/or weight issues, but also for the health of our entire population.
The following is the abstract of a scientific article published in the peer-reviewed journal Organic Agriculture:
Influence of biologically enhanced organic production on antioxidant and sensory qualities of (Malus x domestica Borkh. cv Braeburn) apples
(Malus x domestica Borkh. cv Braeburn) apples grown at Royal City, WA, USA under biologically enhanced organic (BEO) methods with nutrient and microbial enhancements were compared with apples produced using conventional methods. Apples from the outer and inner tree canopies were evaluated for antioxidant capacity, soluble solids content (SSC), shelf life, and consumer acceptability by sensory taste panels. Formazan soil tests to estimate microbial activity were correlated with fruit properties. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in 2,2′-azino-bis[3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid]/Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (ABTS/TEAC) or 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH/TEAC) antioxidant capacity between BEO and conventional cv Braeburn apples. However, BEO apples had a higher level (P = 0.003) of total phenolics (TP) assessed by Folin–Ciocalteu reagent than conventional apples, and outer-canopy apples had higher SSC (P = 0.002), as well as higher TP, ABTS, and DPPH antioxidant properties (P < 0.01) compared to inner-canopy apples. BEO apples from both outer and inner canopies also had higher SSC (P < 0.001) than those conventionally grown. There was no difference in shelf life between BEO and conventional apples (P = 0.366), nor between outer-canopy and inner-canopy apples (P = 0.286). The overall acceptability sensory ratings for BEO apples were significantly higher (P < 0.001) than conventional fruits and outside-canopy fruits were rated superior to inner-canopy fruits (P < 0.001).
Dr. Bogs’ Dissertation Abstract:
ABSTRACT OF DISSERTATION
EFFECTS OF ORGANIC, BIOLOGICAL AND CONVENTIONAL PRODUCTION METHODS ON APPLE ANTIOXIDANT LEVELS, SENSORY QUALITIES AND HUMAN GLYCEMIC RESPONSE
Different cultivation systems of fruit trees may influence fruit nutrient and phytochemical content, and consequently, human responses. This experiment compared two cultivars of apples (Malus domestica Mill.) each under differing cultivation systems. These were evaluated for antioxidant activity, human glycemic response, soluble solids content, shelf life and consumer acceptability by human sensory panels. In addition, soil and leaf tissue tests were performed and correlated to the above results.
‘Braeburn’ (M. domestica ) apples grown in Washington state under biologically-enhanced organic and conventional methods were evaluated in 2007. Treatments were split to include apples from the outside and inside of the tree canopies. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in ABTS or DPPH antioxidant activity between organic and conventional ‘Braeburn’ apples. Organic ‘Braeburn’ apples had a higher level (P = 0.003) of total phenolics (TP) than the conventional apples. Outside-canopy apples had higher TP, ABTS and DPPH antioxidant activity levels (P < 0.01) than inside-canopy apples. Organically-grown ‘Braeburn’ apples from both outside and inside the canopies had higher soluble solids levels (P < 0.001) than those conventionally-grown. Fruit soluble solids content was higher (P = 0.002) in ‘Braeburn’ apples from outside the canopies than from inside the canopies. There was no difference in shelf life between organic and conventional ‘Braeburn’ apples (P = 0.366), nor between outside-canopy and inside-canopy apples (P = 0.286). The ‘Braeburn’ overall acceptability sensory ratings for organic apples were significantly higher (P < 0.001), than conventional fruits, and outside-canopy fruits surpassed inside-canopy fruits (P < 0.001).
‘Crimson Gala’ (M. domestica) apples from Washington state orchards grown under biologically-enhanced conventional management and typical conventional management were evaluated in 2008. The biological apples had higher ABTS antioxidant activity than the conventional (P = 0.0498). The conventional ‘Gala’ apples had higher DPPH antioxidant activity (P = 0.002) than the biological. There was no difference (P = 0.681) between the biological and conventional ‘Gala’ apple total phenolics (TP) levels. None of the values used to compare human glycemic response were statistically different (P > 0.05). The conventionally-grown ‘Gala’ apples had higher soluble solids levels (P = 0.005), greater shelf life (P = 0.035), and a higher overall sensory rating (P = 0.014) than the biologically-grown fruit. The above measured values were also correlated with soil, leaf, and fruit tissue values. It should be noted that the biological ‘Gala’ orchard had a soil with a cation exchange capacity (CEC) of 7.1 meq/100g compared to the conventional control orchard’s CEC of 11.3 meq/100g, which may have negatively affected the quality of the biological apples. Understanding how cultivation practices affect consumer acceptance will encourage growers to further improve production practices.
Jana D. Bogs
Department of Horticulture
and Landscape Architecture
Fort Collins, CO80523