Apples are some of the most popular and delicious fruits on the planet. There is nothing like biting into a bright, red, sweet, juicy apple to quench your thirst and satisfy your sweet tooth while boosting your health in a major way. There are more than 7,500 varieties of these delicious fruits and they come in a variety of colors namely red, yellow, and green
In addition to being delicious, the health benefits of apples include the prevention of cardiac and GI disorders, constipation, anemia, and diabetes. They may also help relieve symptoms of rheumatism, gout, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Apples help in reducing weakness, providing relief from dysentery, and promoting digestion. Finally, they are known to aid in dental and skin care.
What are Apples?
Apples (Malus domestica) are pomaceous fruits produced by apple tree that belongs to the Rosaceae family. The skin of apples is thin but sturdy and the inner flesh is thick and juicy; the fruit, it softens as it ripens. The inner core holds the seeds, which can be detrimental for your health if consumed in excess. The nutrients are in the flesh and the skin, which are a rich source of anthocyanins and tannins. The expression remains true: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away!’
In 2010, the complete genome of the apple was decoded, which has led to an increase in research and understanding of why apples are so beneficial for our health, and what specific components are responsible for the boost they provide! Let’s take a look at some of those essential components of one of the world’s favorite and healthiest fruits!
Watch Video: 7 Amazing Benefits of Apple
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, apples contain many essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They are free of fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Antioxidants, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and a few vitamin B (niacin, vitamin B6) are responsible for the health benefits attributed to apples.
The other important nutrients in apple include calcium, vitamin K, iron, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. They are also packed with phytonutrients and flavonoids, like quercetin, epicatechin, phloridzin, and other polyphenolic compounds.
They are energy-dense and water-rich fruits which helps you feel full. They are rightly called “nutritional powerhouses”.
|Serving Size :|
|Total lipid (fat) [g]||0.17|
|Carbohydrate, by difference [g]||13.81|
|Fiber, total dietary [g]||2.4|
|Sugars, total including NLEA [g]||10.39|
|Glucose (dextrose) [g]||2.43|
|Calcium, Ca [mg]||6|
|Iron, Fe [mg]||0.12|
|Magnesium, Mg [mg]||5|
|Phosphorus, P [mg]||11|
|Potassium, K [mg]||107|
|Sodium, Na [mg]||1|
|Zinc, Zn [mg]||0.04|
|Copper, Cu [mg]||0.03|
|Manganese, Mn [mg]||0.04|
|Fluoride, F [µg]||3.3|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]||4.6|
|Pantothenic acid [mg]||0.06|
|Vitamin B-6 [mg]||0.04|
|Folate, total [µg]||3|
|Folate, food [µg]||3|
|Folate, DFE [µg]||3|
|Choline, total [mg]||3.4|
|Vitamin A, RAE [µg]||3|
|Carotene, beta [µg]||27|
|Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]||11|
|Vitamin A, IU [IU]||54|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]||29|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]||0.18|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]||2.2|
|Fatty acids, total saturated [g]||0.03|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]||0.01|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]||0.05|
|Aspartic acid [g]||0.07|
|Glutamic acid [g]||0.03|
|Sources include : USDA|
Carbs and Calories in Apples
According to the USDA, a 100 g serving of apples contains about 52 calories and 14 g of carbs.
Health Benefits of Apples
Mentioned below are some of the best health benefits of apples that may help you in keeping the doctor away:
May Improve Gut Health
Research by Dr. Ferdous Gheyas of the Department of Horticulture Science at North Carolina State University, reports that apples are rich in soluble fiber. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one large apple provides 20 percent of their daily recommended intake of dietary fiber. The fibers help in enhancing the digestive process. Regular consumption of fiber in apples ensures smooth bowel movements and the prevention of constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other stomach disorders.
Fiber also stimulates the release of gastric and digestive juices to ensure efficient uptake of nutrients, while simultaneously scraping excess cholesterol out of your veins and arteries to ensure proper heart health and reduce the chances of atherosclerosis.
Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that acts like a prebiotic. It specifically helps to improve the functioning of the bacteria living in our large intestine. Apples stimulate metabolism within the digestive tract and promote good bacteria in the gut. This prebiotic effect leads to improved health by maximizing nutrient uptake and eliminating harmful bacteria and toxins.
Possibly Considered Good for the Heart
Apples help lower the risk of various other heart ailments, as per a study published in the journal Nutrition. The antioxidant property of apples reduces the oxidation of fats, called lipid peroxidation. It also neutralizes various fats found in blood vessels that can exert dangerous pressure. The flavonoid, quercetin, reduces inflammation in our blood vessels, while the polyphenol, epicatechin, lowers the blood pressure in the body.
Studies have shown that regular apple intake is also associated with a reduced risk of thrombotic strokes in both men and women.
The soluble fiber present in apples helps to lower the level of cholesterol in the body, making it a strong defensive mechanism against cardiovascular diseases. One year-long research study performed on 160 post-menopausal women showed that consuming apples daily resulted in a drastic decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and a slight increase in HDL (good) cholesterol in just three months.
Linked to a Lower Risk of Diabetes
Controlling blood sugar is essential for people suffering from diabetes. The polyphenols in apples have been directly linked to reducing the uptake of carbohydrates by the body. Some research focusing on apple vinegar showed that it can reduce the fluctuation of blood sugar levels that occur in the bloodstream, an important factor for keeping diabetes in check. The polyphenols also lower glucose absorption in our digestive tract and stimulate the release of insulin from our pancreas, which is necessary to keep the blood sugar levels in check.
Finally, the polyphenols stimulate the insulin receptors on cells throughout our body, which speeds up the removal of sugar from our bloodstream. This process gets it to our cells for metabolism, thereby helping manage diabetes.
May Be Helpful in Improving Dental Health
Eating apple helps in cleaning both teeth and gums. When you eat apples, the fiber in them cleanses the teeth, and the antibacterial properties thought to come from this fruit keep bacteria and viruses at bay. While they do not reduce dental cavities, they stimulate the secretion of saliva (an alkaline compound), which reduces the ability of bacteria to multiply and grow in your mouth, as per a study published in PLOS One.
May Promote Brain Health
A study conducted on rat brain cells by researchers at Cornell University in New York shows that the potent abundant antioxidants in apples protect the brain cells against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders, so reducing it is linked with lessening or hopefully preventing these disorders.
Apples also increase the amount of acetylcholine in the brain, which is linked to improving concentration, problem-solving, and memory.
May Relieve Symptoms of Asthma
Apples have shown tremendous anti-inflammatory behavior and in terms of asthma, they have stood out among other natural treatments. Quercetin, a flavonoid present in the apple skin helps reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
May Improve Bone Health
Compounds like kaempferol, quercetin, and myricetin present in apple have been linked to reducing inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and gout. Thus, people suffering from rheumatism find apples very useful as they aid in the healing process.
May Aid in Weight Loss
Both the high water content and fiber in apples increase satiety, thereby reducing appetite and overeating. Meaning, they are burned off quicker, or not absorbed by the body at all, which can be great news for millions of people struggling with obesity.
May Aid in Skin and Hair Care
Apples also increase blood circulation which keeps the skin looking young and toned. They stimulate the replacement of old cells, repair of the damaged ones, and prevention of acne. Pastes made of apple and honey or apple and milk increase the shine and glow of the skin when topically applied.
According to the USDA Nutrient Database, one large apple provides approximately 17 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. This essential vitamin helps to increase immunity against infections and diseases. The ascorbic acid reserves found in apple also help in collagen formation which provides a range of benefits for the skin.
Applying apple juice to the scalp can help prevent dandruff. Washing the hair and finally rinsing it from apple juice gives it a healthy shiny look, as per anecdotal evidence. It also acts as a good conditioner.
May Protect From NSAIDs
Catechin and chlorogenic acid found in apples help protect the stomach lining from injury from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are a class of painkillers that may injure the stomach cells. Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, considers blueberries, apples, and leafy greens as some of the most important anti-inflammatory foods.
Uses of Apples
Apple can be used in different ways for different purposes as follows:
- Eat it: Apples can be eaten raw right off the tree or in a variety of dishes such as fruit salads and custards. These fruits can be baked, minced, mashed, frozen, or even dried into chips as a healthy, sweet snack.
- Drink it: Apple juice is also a common drink throughout the world and it is also included in many desserts.
- Apply it: The oil extracted from its seeds also useful and has many applications, especially in the cosmetic industry. The benefits of apple seed oil include reducing the appearance of acne, reducing wrinkles, and moisturizing the skin.
How to Buy and Store Apples?
Here are a few tips for selecting and storing apples:
- When you buy apples, make sure they are firm.
- Don’t buy those that have wrinkles, since they have lost most of their health benefits and nutritional values.
- Do not select the ones that are unusually soft or bruised.
- Do not store apples that are overripe or are beginning to rot with the firm ones
Note: Ripe apples metabolize their nutritional resources by releasing a compound called ethylene gas. This ethylene gas can stimulate the rapid ripening and rot of other apples. So make sure to remove these from the bag of apples that you buy.
Apple Side Effects
There are a few side effects of eating apples. One should look out for the following:
- Poisoning: Apple seeds contain cyanide, which is poisonous. Excess intake can be fatal. They should not be consumed orally, however, they can be used for topical applications.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Expecting and lactating mothers should avoid the intake of apple tea as it may harm the growing fetus.
- Allergy: Apple may cause allergic reactions in some people.
- Medication: Apple may interfere with certain medications. In such cases, talk to your doctor before adding apples to your diet.