Everyone has heard that famous saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
In fact, you’ve probably heard it so many times, you may just take it for a given. After all, you’ve probably never heard anyone tell you the dangers of eating apples.
At first glance, the old saying may seem like a simple way for parents to get their kids to eat more fruit and fewer sweets, but there’s actually plenty of evidence backing up the ways apples are awesome for your health.
So let’s explore 12 of the most amazing health benefits of apples.
1. Apples Are Nutrient-Rich
Apples come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, and can be prepared in dozens of differentways. This has a lot to do with how nutritious and tasty they can be.
Apples contain a class of compounds called phytochemicals, which are the primary reasons for the protective qualities of fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals are plant compounds that help protect against chronic disease by inhibiting cell proliferation and regulating the immune and inflammatory response system.
The phytochemicals found most commonly in fruits and vegetables are the flavonoids. In the United States, 22% of all dietary flavonoids consumed come from apples, making them the second largest source in our diets.
A study performed in 2004 by researchers from the USDA investigated over 100 foods to measure the concentration of antioxidants in each serving. Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples placed at number 12 and number 13 on the overall list.
Antioxidants are extremely important for the body, fighting off free radicals that are linked to numerous cancers and chronic diseases. When compared to other commonly consumed fruits in the typical American diet, apples had the second highest level of antioxidant activity.
Apples are also great foods if you’re trying to get more fiber in your diet. One medium-sized apple contains around 4 g of soluble fiber, or 17% of your daily intake. Soluble fiber has known benefits in helping the friendly gut flora in your intestine.
Considering all of this, it’s no wonder apples are associated with decreased risk of chronic disease.
2. Apples Are Great For Your Heart
If you eat an apple a day (or two), a 2011 study shows you may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Eating apples daily evidently lowers your cholesterol levels, as well as lowering two other markers associated with plaque build-up and inflammation in the walls of your arteries.
A 2012 study published in Journal of Functional Foods from The Ohio State University split 51 participants into three groups, one group eating an apple a day for four weeks, another taking a daily antioxidant supplement, and the last taking placebos.
They found that the apple eaters had by far the most significant drop of “bad” LDL cholesterol, lowering it by 40% on average. When you have too much LDL cholesterol, you could suffer atherosclerosis – the hardening of the arteries that could lead to heart attack or stroke.
So if you want your heart to keep beating strongly into your old age, eat your apples.
3. Apples Decrease Diabetes Risk
People with diabetes often have it rough when it comes to choosing the right foods for them. Because of the sugars found in them, diabetics are concerned about eating too much fruit.
While apples aren’t suited to everyone with diabetes, they have been shown to reduce risk of getting diabetes.
According to the Harvard Gazette, apples and other fruits with high antioxidant concentrations like berries and grapes are beneficial for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
“Our data further endorse current recommendations on increasing whole fruits, but not fruit juice, as a measure for diabetes prevention,” said Isao Muraki of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.
4. Apples Are Great for Your Teeth
While apples are no substitute for a tooth brush, they can still be pretty great for your smile.
Because apples are mildly acidic, they act as an astringent to your teeth – especially the fiber found in the skin. The astringent effect helps to cleanse and tighten your gums, detoxifies them, and removes the plaque from your teeth.
If you eat an apple as a snack between meals, not only will it aid your mouth in cleaning your teeth after the last meal, you’ll also feel less hungry at your next meal and crave fewer calories!
5. Apples Decrease Cancer Risk
Because of the high nutrient content of apples, they’ve become more and more associated with reduced risk of various cancers.
Cancer prevention studies on animals have found apples can help prevent colon cancer and reduce risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by 40%. This is largely attributed to the antioxidant called procyanidins found inside apples.
A study titled “Does an apple a day keep the oncologist away?”, found that people who consumed 1 or more apples per day were at a lower risk of developing cancer, including a 20% lower risk of colorectal cancer and an 18% lower risk of breast cancer.
Thanks to their flavonoid content, the American Association for Cancer Research concluded that the consumption of apples, can reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23%.
6. Apples Help Prevent Vision Problems
Because apples contain a considerable amount of both vitamin A and vitamin C, they can boost your immune system and even make your eyes stronger at night.
Vitamin A strengthens your cornea, helping to decrease your risk of macular degeneration, and is even used in medicated eye drops to help keep dry eyes lubricated.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables that has scientific evidence demonstrating how effective it is in lowering your risk of developing cataracts, slowing macular degeneration, and preventing loss of visual acuity.
Because of how important these vitamins are for the health of your ocular blood vessels, eating apples is a sure way of keeping your vision sharp.
7. Apples Protect Against Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a group of risk factors that increase your risk for heart disease and other problems like stroke or diabetes.
- A large waistline
- A high triglyceride level
- A low “good” HDL level
- High blood pressure
- High fasting blood sugar
Fortunately, apples may be a powerful weapon in the fight against metabolic syndrome.
Dr. Victor Fulgoni presented results at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting showing that adult apple product consumers had a 27% decreased likelihood of being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
“We found that adults who eat apples and apple products have smaller waistlines that indicate less abdominal fat, lower blood pressure and a reduced risk for developing what is known as the metabolic syndrome,” said Fulgoni.
Apple products in this research include raw apples themselves, apple juice, and apple sauce. So if you aren’t already including apples in one of these forms in your diet, start doing so if you want to protect yourself against metabolic syndrome.
8. Apples Boost Immune Health
Findings published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity show that because of soluble fibers like pectin found in apples, they may reduce the inflammation associated with diseases by strengthening your immune system.
The experiment placed laboratory mice on either soluble or insoluble fiber diets, and injected them with a substance that forced the body to mimic a bacterial infection. The mice who had eaten the soluble fiber were only half as sick as the other group, and recovered 50%t sooner.
One researcher said, “In only six weeks, these animals had profound, positive changes in their immune systems.”
Gregory Freund of the University of Illinois’ College of Medicine said, “Soluble fiber changes the personality of immune cells – they go from being pro-inflammatory angry cells, to anti-inflammatory healing cells that help us recover faster from infection.
Not all fiber is created equal, it would seem. But the soluble fiber found in apples may just be a great positive for your immune health.
9. Apples Protect You From Neurological Disease
Researchers found that the antioxidants in apples, oranges, and bananas help reduce the damage done to nerve cells in the brain and spine caused by illnesses.
Can you guess which fruit had the highest concentration of these antioxidants? You guessed it: apples. Especially if they still contained an intact peel.
Illnesses place added stress onto the neurons in the brain, and the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are shown to have been subjected to increased stress over time. This is what is believed to be partially responsible for their nerve degeneration as part of Alzheimer’s.
Other studies have also shown that men who consume high amounts of flavonoids, like those found in apples, may be able to lower their risk of Parkinson’s disease.
10. Apples Keep The Pounds Off
Because apples are high in fiber and low in energy density, they’re an excellent food for weight loss.
One study showed women eating 1.5 large apples per day were able to lose 2.9 lbs on average over a period of 12 weeks.
Because apples are such a rich source of the fiber pectin, when you eat apples your stomach actually empties more slowly – from about 1 hour up to 2 hours. In other words, you’ll feel fuller, longer, and your body will be more capable of absorbing the nutrients from your food.
So, if you’re looking to lose weight by replacing your unhealthy snacks with a great tasting, good-for-you fruit, reach for an apple instead.
11. Apples Prevent Gastrointestinal Issues
Because of the high levels of fiber found in apples, you can be certain that they’ll help you fight against gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, constipation, and can even help neutralize irritable bowel syndrome.
Thanks to the 4 g of soluble fiber found in every apple, you can help yourself either go to the bathroom – or stop going to the bathroom.
The best means of fighting against irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is with a diet shaped around avoiding dairy and fatty foods, coupled with the inclusion of lots of fiber. So when you choose your snacks, be sure to include apples.
12. Apples Fight Breathing Problems
A 2007 study showed that children of women who consumed apples regularly during their pregnancy were much less likely to suffer from asthma or wheezing by age 5 than were those children whose mothers rarely ate apples while they were pregnant.
The results of the study indicated that apples were the only food associated with a reduced risk of asthma and wheezing in children. Mothers who ate the most apples (four or more a week) saw a 27% reduction of risk of wheezing and about half the risk of childhood asthma than those mothers who ate one or less apples a week.
Much of this is thanks to the powerful antioxidants contained in the skin or peel of the apple. These antioxidants provide a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory effect that help fight the allergies that trigger asthma itself.
After learning all these benefits, I’m sure you feel like I do – super pleased that apples are among the most popular fruits in the world.
Remember, as with all other foods, portion sizes are important – even in the case of apples. Don’t be fooled into believing you can acquire all of these benefits by eating a whole barrel of apples in a single day. Spread them out, eating them regularly.
And like I mentioned earlier, you can find apples prepared in all sorts of ways. Some of which can be particularly unhealthy, especially if they’re dipped in chocolate or caramel. So when you want to get the awesome health benefits of apples, go for the fresh, raw fruit itself with the peel over the canned or dried variety.
If eating healthy is what you’ve set your mind to, apples are an excellent choice.
What do you think about the health benefits of apples? Leave your answer in the comments below!