Medical Review by Barbie Cervoni, MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
apple (Mars Domestica) is the most consumed fruit in the United States. They come in a variety of colors and flavors and are commonly eaten raw as a snack or cooked into baked goods. Apples are also used to make cider, juice, jam, and wine.
In addition to its culinary uses, apples are also known for many health benefits. Evidence shows that eating apples improves digestion and provides benefits such as protection against chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Here’s everything you need to know about the health benefits of apples and how to incorporate apples into your diet.
Promotes heart health
Apples, especially apples with the skin on, are rich in fiber, polyphenols, and other nutrients that support heart health.
Some studies have linked apples to a lower risk of heart disease. A 2020 review found that eating 100 to 150 grams (g) of a whole apple (about one small apple) each day was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I understand.
Additionally, daily apple consumption was found to reduce the risk of dying from stroke by 27% and the risk of dying from heart disease by 25%.
Improve digestive health
Apples are a great source of pectin, a soluble fiber that aids digestion. A soluble fiber, pectin absorbs water in the digestive tract, producing larger, softer stools that are easier to pass.
Pectin is also recognized as a prebiotic that promotes the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
May support weight management
Apples are high in water and fiber, yet low in calories, so they help keep you feeling full and support weight management by reducing your daily calorie intake.
One study in adults linked increased intake of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables with weight loss. Participants who ate apples often lost an average of 1.24 pounds over four years.
Another review found that apple consumption significantly reduced body mass index (BMI). However, there was no significant difference in body weight.
May prevent diabetes
Studies have found that people who eat two servings of whole fruits, such as apples, a day have a 36% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who eat less than half.
One review found that apples and pears were associated with a significant 18% reduction in type 2 diabetes risk. Researchers found that even one serving a week could reduce risk by 3%.
One potential reason for this could be the concentration of flavonoids in apples, including quercetin, which helps lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
The soluble fiber in apples may also help prevent diabetes by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates and preventing blood sugar spikes.
reduce the risk of cancer
Apples are rich in antioxidants, which may reduce cancer risk by neutralizing carcinogenic free radicals.
Additionally, research suggests that the phytochemicals in apples slow the growth of cancer cells and prevent them from growing.
The fiber in apples may also help prevent colorectal cancer. Recent findings from the National Cancer Institute suggest that every 10 grams of fiber added reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 7%.
Some observational studies suggest that apples may reduce the risk of:
However, more human studies are needed to confirm the anti-cancer effects of apples.
Supports brain health
Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables may benefit cognitive function, especially in older adults.
In particular, studies have shown that quercetin, found in apples, protects neurons in the brain from oxidative damage and may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. However, human studies are needed to establish a definite relationship.
apple nutrition facts
One medium raw apple (with skin) contains the following nutrients:
Apples are relatively rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps the immune system work properly to fight disease. Vitamin C facilitates the absorption of iron from plant foods and is required for collagen production.
The fruit is also rich in phytochemicals such as quercetin, catechins, chlorogenic acid and epicatechin, which have powerful antioxidant properties.
Because apples contain carbohydrates, diabetics should try to eat one small apple (equivalent to about 15 carbohydrates) with each meal or snack.
Risks of eating apples
Appropriate amounts of apples are unlikely to cause serious side effects. However, some people experience bloating, gas, and digestive problems after eating apples.
This is because apples are rich in fiber and contain FODMAPs fructose and sorbitol, sugars that some people cannot tolerate.
People with apple allergies should avoid apples and foods containing apples that can cause symptoms. Studies show that 70% of those with birch pollen allergies develop pollen-related food allergies, especially to apples. This is due to the similarities between apple protein and birch pollen.
Finally, while a few apple seeds are unlikely to do any harm, eating too many can be dangerous. This is because chewing or crushing apple seeds releases a highly toxic compound called cyanide.
RELATED: Oral Allergy Syndrome – Why Some People Are Allergic To Fruits And Vegetables
Tips for consuming apples
The best way to eat apples is with the skin on or sliced. Apple peels are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial nutrients.
Other ways to incorporate apples into your diet include:
Combine sliced apples and nut butter
Use applesauce instead of butter in baking recipes
Blend apple slices to make a smoothie
Bake apple slices or halves with various spices
add chopped apples to the salad
When drinking apple juice, choose 100% apple juice with no added sugar. Consume in small portions as fruit juice does not contain the dietary fiber found in fruit.
Apples are a great source of nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants that help support healthy digestion, brain health and weight management. There is evidence that apples can also protect against certain chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Eating apples with the skin on regularly provides the most health benefits. Apples are relatively safe and unlikely to cause serious side effects when eaten seedless and in moderation.
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