Assisted Living Super Food: An Apple (Peel) a Day

Dining services in senior living facilities may be adding a new “super food” to their menus.  According to a new study published on, the waxy substance found on apple peels may hold the key to preventing muscle wasting.

With advancing research, scientists are uncovering medical breakthroughs that will hopefully one day change the face of aging and disease.  Researchers at the University of Iowa have been able to identify that ursolic acid counteracts genetic changes in muscle cells and in animal studies it has been shown to prevent muscle weakening.  Researchers are not certain that the study’s results will translate from mice to humans but they are hopeful that this discovery will lead to advances that help improve quality of life. An apple a day may keep atrophy away

“Muscle wasting is a frequent companion of illness and aging,” said study researcher Dr. Christopher Adams, an endocrinologist at the University. “It prolongs hospitalization, delays recoveries and in some cases, prevents people from going back home,” Adams said.

According to the National Institute of Health, there are two type of muscle atrophy: disuse atrophy and neurogenic atrophy.  Disuse atrophy is more prevalent in residents in both nursing homes and assisted living facilities since it is associated with lack of physical exercise.

Although muscle atrophy can be a normal symptom of aging, other causes may include alcoholic associated myopathy, long-term immobilization, long-term corticosteroid use, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke and diabetic neuropathy among others.

Adams tells MSNBC that they are hoping to begin human trials with ursolic acid in the future.  Hopefully this type of research will lead to advances in diseases such as Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS).

The researchers were also excited to see that the mice given the ursolic acid became leaner with lower blood levels of glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides.  The researchers suggest that ursolic acid may be responsible for some of the benefits of healthy eating.

Apples and their waxy peels are not alone in helping prevent against aging and its associated symptoms.  There are several other foods that not only taste good but can easily be incorporated into everyday menus. Dietary managers in assisted living and other senior care settings may consider adding some of the following foods to the menu.

Other “Super Foods” which often associated with aging and illness.

  • Blueberries: These little berries contain anti-oxidants that have anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. They also can help lower cholesterol and strengthen artery walls
  • Garlic: A natural remedy for colds and flu and has been shown to reduce cholesterol
  • Oily Fish: Top source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids which have been shown to reduce the risk of blood clots and buildup of fatty deposits in arteries.
  • Avocado: High in monounsaturated fats and in vitamins E and C.
  • Brazil Nuts: Also high in monounsaturated fats and good source of selenium, which helps clean up free radicals in the body.
  • Olive Oil: Has been proven beneficial in improving blood vessel function and helps lower cholesterol.
  • Honey: A powerful anti-bacterial with healing powers.
  • Bananas: High in minerals and providing potassium and good carbohydrates, bananas help maintain energy levels.
  • Tomatoes: A source of lycopene which absorbs free radicals in the body and has been shown to help protect against prostate cancer.
  • Broccoli: A good source of iron and has been shown to protect against breast and prostate cancer

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