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How could an article like this begin without reminding you of the old proverb that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? But is there any truth to the saying? Well, yes and no. Herein, you can dive into all the health benefits, real and imagined, achieved through the regular consumption of apples. High in fiber, vitamin C, pectin, and other important nutrients, apples are certainly a good addition to your diet. Take a look at some of the ways apples can treat and prevent diseases as well as aid in weight loss and maybe even improve your immune system.
Important Note: As with all scientific research, as time goes on, things sometimes change. The information contained herein is as current as the date of this publication. Be sure to dig deeper where research may be currently limited.
Apples, which are notably nutritious, are rife with vitamins and minerals important to one’s overall health. An incredible source of fiber, phytochemicals, and vitamin C, apples have instrumental health benefits. Some of the significant phytochemicals in one medium apple include quercetin and pectin; the former is a flavonoid that reduces inflammation while the latter is a soluble fiber that can prevent chronic illness and aid with bowel disorders. It’s worth noting that much of the nutrition is contained in the apple’s skin, so it’s important to consume that part in addition to the flesh. Moreover, fresh whole apples are the most nutritious whereas juicing and dehydrating remove particular vitamins altogether while lowering the content in others. In addition to the nutrient composition of apples contributing to necessary daily vitamin intake, particular nutrients have their own health benefits as noted below.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. The nutritiousness of fruits and vegetables can’t be overstated. Apples, like other fruits, are a laudable contributor of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Supports Weight Loss
If you’re looking for foods that will aid your weight-loss journey or ones that will help with weight maintenance, apples are a worthy consideration. For starters, apples have a nearly 90% water content; foods with a high water content tend to give the body a longer feeling of fullness thereby reducing further caloric intake. Moreover, calorie intake is almost always a consideration when managing weight loss; one medium apple contains just 95 calories making the fruit a wise choice for snaking. Many notable studies have shown that weight loss is best facilitated by making more nutrient-dense food choices in addition to counting calories. One study showed that apples and oat cookies with the same caloric and fiber makeup had different effects on weight loss; this particular study showed that eating apples instead of oat cookies caused reduced calorie intake and subsequent weight loss.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Weight loss and management aren’t all about calorie intake, they’re about making better, more nutritious choices. Apples are always a better substitute for processed snacks, even if they contain the same caloric and fiber content.
Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Science has indicated that eating an apple a day may actually keep the doctor away. As previously noted, apples are fraught with vitamin C; vitamin C is linked to lowered BMI, regulated blood pressure, and reduced levels of C-reactive proteins all of which are in turn linked to a reduced risk for heart disease. Moreover, apples do not contain saturated fats or cholesterol both of which lead to an increased risk of heart disease; so by substituting an apple a day for fatty, high-cholesterol snacks, you may reduce your risk for cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, apples have flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, that lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes which is one of many contributors to heart disease. Finally, together with the vitamin C and flavonoid makeup along with the lack of saturated fats and cholesterol, apples can notably reduce one’s risk for acquiring heart disease.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Certainly, each of the noted characteristics of apples can lower one’s risk of heart disease but they can’t do so in and of themselves. Other health-related factors could easily counteract the old “apple a day” recommendation.
To begin, apples score low on the glycemic index as well as being low in carbohydrates, two measurements diabetics typically concern themselves with. Choosing low-carbohydrate, low glycemic index foods is imperative to managing blood sugars. One medium apple has a glycemic index range of 28-44 and approximately 8 grams of carbohydrates; both of these numbers are relatively low and in keeping with many recommended counts for diabetics. Better yet, regular consumption of apples is associated with a reduced risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. Many scientific studies have shown a direct correlation between the regular ingestion of whole fruits, especially apples among others, and the reduced risk of diabetes.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. The numbers don’t lie here; the low carbohydrate count as well as the low glycemic index, inevitably make apples a diabetes-friendly food.
Improves Gut Health
Apples contain a type of fiber called pectin; pectin acts as a prebiotic to stimulate the development of healthy bacteria in the gut. Essentially, the pectin in apples feeds the good bacteria already present in your gut. Furthermore, the pectin fiber in apples can help to reduce harmful gut bacteria altogether.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although apples certainly do contain pectin fiber, there are too few studies drawing the connection between the pectin fiber and gut health to conclusively assert it as a health benefit to eating apples.
May Fight Asthma Symptoms
In a handful of recent studies, apples have been found to aid in the remediation of asthma symptoms. In addition to alleviating asthma symptoms in general, apples have also been linked to improved overall lung function. Apples are packed full of phytochemicals which are known to reduce the risk of an asthma diagnosis and asthma symptoms when apples are eaten with regularity. In an Australian study, 1,600 adults experienced reduced asthma symptoms with the regular ingestion of fresh apples. It’s believed that the vitamins E and C as well as the retinol and beta-carotene makeup of apples are the antioxidants responsible for the effect apples have on asthma.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. Though there are only a few studies that look into the connection between apples and asthma, the results are promising. Keep a watchful eye for further research.
Improves Brain Function
Recent neuroscience studies suggest there’s a connection between the regular consumption of apples and improved brain health. The high concentration of phytonutrients in the genetic makeup of apples stimulates and improves brain function. Another one of apple’s nutrients, pectin, is also positively correlated to enhanced brain function. An additional nutrient contained in apples that contributes positively to brain function is the mineral boron. Individually, each of the aforementioned nutrients undoubtedly bolsters brain health, however, there are very few studies that lump them all together for an overarching conclusion.
General Consensus: 2.5/5 and here is why. The nutrients contained in apples that are individually connected to brain health have not been widely studied in apples. Further research is warranted.
Lowers Blood Pressure and Risk of Hypertension
Research indicates that regular whole apple ingestion may lower both cholesterol and blood pressure. Scientific studies show that regularly consuming fresh fruits, including apples, can help to maintain ideal blood pressure or even lower existing high blood pressure. A 2016 study showed that nurses who ate four servings of fruit per day reduced their risk of developing high blood pressure; common among all their fruit servings was the presence of fresh apples. Though this is only one study connecting apples to the reduced risk of hypertension, it’s worth looking out for in future studies.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although evidence drawing the connection from apples to lowered blood pressure is limited, the few studies that do exist draw a positive correlation. More research is needed to say for certain though.
Aids in Digestion
As noted earlier, apples are rich in insoluble fiber that aids in digestion. The insoluble fiber in apples, enhances stool volume, the effect of which is resolved constipation and/or diarrhea. The key to benefiting from apples’ insoluble fiber is eating the skin of the apple in addition to the flesh. Furthermore, apples are fraught with the soluble fiber pectin which slows digestion making you feel fuller longer.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although there’s something to be said for the digestive properties of both the soluble and insoluble fibers in apples, the two properties have counteractive properties making one wonder if they don’t just cancel each other out. Sadly, there’s not a ton of research inquiring about apples and digestive health.
The vitamin C in apples is integral to supporting a strong and healthy immune system. Apples are also packed with the antioxidant quercetin that both regulates the immune system and reduces inflammation. A University of Illinois study drew a profound connection between eating whole apples and enhanced immunity. Laboratory mice showed an improved immune system after six weeks of regular apple consumption. Though this is promising, there aren’t many other studies that bolster this claim. Again, it’s another facet of the benefits of apples to watch out for.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although preliminary research draws a positive connection to immunity and apples, there’s still more work to do in this field.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
May Reduce Dental Decay
General Consensus: 1.5/5 and here is why. While some scientists suggest that the mere act of biting into and chewing an apple each day may inhibit the growth of plaque and break down existing plaque, there’s simply not enough research to stand behind this claim.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although some studies indicate that vitamin C in apples may prevent the growth of cancer tumors, there are just as many studies that dispute this claim.
Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. There are a few studies that express the belief that quercetin, a nutrient present in apples, may reduce the symptoms and even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but the connection between apples and Alzheimer’s is hardly certain.