Published on August 8th, 2012 | by Stephen Redeker1
Behind the Myth: Eating Apples at Night
Behind the Myth: Exploring Korean Tradition
This series of articles will shed light on some Korean myths, folklore, traditions and superstitions. Every country has their own share of beliefs, fact or fiction, and many foreigners living in Korea have not yet heard or do not yet understand the basis of various Korean beliefs that may be different from their own.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
This adage is taught to most Western children as a way of verbalizing that apples are very healthy to eat. The message is that if we eat an apple every day, we will be so healthy that we won’t need a doctor. Although this is an exaggeration of the health benefits of apples, we can all agree that they’re one healthy fruit. Koreans have the same belief, with one reservation.
It’s believed in Korea that eating an apple at night is actually unhealthy, causing indigestion and making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. The origins of this idea are unknown, but the belief seems to be well known in Korea. There are many Koreans who say they’ve heard about this from an elder at some point in their life. A few of them believe it and refrain from eating sahgwah (Hangeul: 사과) at night.
The fact that apples are very healthy is uncontested, but does that change when eating them at night? Eating food before going to sleep generally is a bad idea because foods that are spicy, heavy, or fatty will make it difficult to sleep soundly. Apples, however, have none of those properties and are actually filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are beneficial for sleeping.
Specifically, they contain vitamins C, B6, and potassium. Apples help to decrease blood pressure, improve breathing and lower blood sugar. They also help the body to secrete serotonin, causing the nerves to relax more easily. All of that provides for a good night’s rest.
There are also polyphenols (antioxidants), found mainly in the skin of apples. They assist the body in breaking down carbohydrates and regulating blood sugar, providing a steady level of energy so you don’t stay up due to an energy spike. That causes body fat to burn steadily, all while you are sleeping.
Most of an apple is really just water, but there is enough fiber to help you feel full as you sleep. This fiber is also good for digestion and aids in cleansing the colon. The fiber is easily digested and soluble in the intestines. If anything is unhealthy, it could be the fact that apples contain a natural sugar and account for about 10% of the body’s carbohydrate needs. However, combined with all the other healthy properties, the good far outweighs the bad.
If all these facts are to be believed, then an apple at night is actually very healthy and helpful to eat; it’s a great snack to have before going to bed. Try it for yourself and see if you feel any difference. Maybe we should even start a new saying for apples: “An apple at night makes you feel all right!”