The health benefits of apples include prevention of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and heart, stomach, and liver disorders, gallstones, constipation, anemia, and diabetes. They also lower your risk of suffering from rheumatism, eye disorders, a variety of cancers, and gout. Apples help in reducing weakness, providing relief from dysentery, and promoting digestion. Finally, they also aid in dental and skin care.
What are Apples?
Apples are some of the most popular and delicious fruits on the planet. There is nothing like biting into a bright, red, juicy apple to quench your thirst and satisfy your sweet tooth while boosting your health in a major way. Apples are pomaceous fruits whose tree belongs to the Rosaceae family and has the scientific name Malus domestica. Their ancestor is the Malus sieversii, which still grows wild in numerous parts of Central Asia. They have been cultivated for thousands of years throughout Asia and Europe, and they make appearances in the cultural history of many ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, and Nordic tribes. Apples gradually made their way to the Americans with the help of European colonizers and are now grown extensively in America.
There are more than 7,500 varieties of these delicious fruits and they come in a variety of colors namely red, yellow, and green. The skin of apples is thin but sturdy and the inner flesh is thick and juicy, and it softens as it ripens. The inner core holds the seeds, which are dangerous for your health. The nutrients are in the flesh and the skin, which are a rich source of anthocyanins and tannins. It’s indeed true when they say, “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!
Nutritional Value of Apples
The long list of health benefits attributed to apples is due to the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and organic compounds found in them. These important nutritional elements include vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and riboflavin. The list also includes minerals like potassium, copper, manganese, and magnesium. Apples are very good sources of dietary fiber and a single serving provides 12% of the daily fiber requirement. They are packed with phytonutrients and flavonoids like quercetin, epicatechin, phloridzin, and other polyphenolic compounds.
Health Benefits of Apples
Mentioned below are the best health benefits of apples that actually help you in keeping the doctor away;
Aid in Digestion
Apples, being rich in fiber, help in the digestive process. Regular consumption of apples ensures smooth bowel movements and the prevention of constipation and stomach disorders. Fiber is an important part of any diet. It adds bulk to the stool and helps food pass through the digestive tract smoothly. Furthermore, it stimulates peristaltic motion so the muscles contract appropriately and move food along. Finally, it 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.
The role of apples in cancer prevention has been a subject of study for some time. While they have shown moderate improvement in treating various types of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer, the most significant discoveries have been regarding lung cancer. Apples show a distinct and undeniable capacity to reduce lung cancer and slow its spread if it does develop. Hypotheses usually speak about the high phytonutrient content, including kaempferol and quercetin, but the exact mechanism for apples’ impact on cancer is still to be known.
Improve Intestinal Health
One of the most essential and overlooked parts of our health is the beneficial bacteria living in our body. Apples specifically help to improve the functioning of the bacteria living in our large intestine. Early studies show that apples stimulate metabolism within the digestive tract and also balance the bacteria, which leads to an improved health by maximizing nutrient uptake and eliminating harmful bacteria and toxins.
Apples are useful in treating anemia since they are a rich source of iron. Anemia is a deficiency of hemoglobin in the blood, which can be fixed by increasing your intake of iron. Iron is an integral part of the metabolism of red blood cells. By increasing the number of red blood cells in the body, you not only prevent anemia but also ensure a proper oxygenation of essential organ systems to keep them functioning properly.
Apples are known to remove weakness, add vigor and vitality to weak people. Therefore patients are always given apples to help them recover quickly from their illnesses. If you want to gain weight, apples should be a part of your daily diet. They help in detoxifying the body and improving the overall health. Although apples don’t contain a significant amount of protein, the combination of the antioxidant compounds and the protein found in apples can have a major role in preventing weakness and improving muscle tone.
Blood sugar control is essential for people who suffer from diabetes and the polyphenols in apples have been directly linked to reducing the uptake of carbohydrates by the body. This, in turn, reduces 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 also 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 and gets it to our cells for metabolism and proper organ function.
Eating apples helps in cleaning both, the teeth and gums. Furthermore, it reduces the incidence of cavities in the teeth. When you eat apples, the fiber in them cleanses the teeth, while the antibacterial properties of these fruits keep bacteria and viruses from infecting the body. Apples also stimulate the secretion of saliva, which is an alkaline compound, meaning that it further reduces the ability of bacteria to multiply and grow in your mouth.
Prevent Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s Diseases
As if the other impressive benefits of apples weren’t enough, they also show a positive impact on neurological issues, particularly in two of the most tragic conditions, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The antioxidant effects of all the phytonutrient compounds in apples certainly help to reduce Alzheimer’s diseases, since the degeneration of the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s has been linked to free radical activity. Apples also increase the amount of acetylcholine in the brain, which is linked to concentration, problem-solving, and memory. In terms of Parkinson’s, apples stop the gradual breakdown of dopamine-producing nerve cells, which can be an underlying cause of the disease.
Treat Respiratory Issues
Our respiratory system is highly susceptible to inflammation and a number of respiratory conditions are directly related to an inflammation of membranes and cells within the system. Asthma is perhaps the most serious condition, as it can be fatal in severe cases. Apples have shown tremendous anti-inflammatory behavior and in terms of asthma, they have stood out among other natural treatments, even superseding the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables in combination. Apples remain a mystery to the world in terms of their complex mechanisms of healing these conditions, most likely because there are so many nutrients found in them that could potentially be responsible for the health perks!
Prevent Heart Diseases
Apples lower the level of cholesterol in the body, making it a strong defensive mechanism against cardiovascular diseases. The adage of ‘an apple a day keeping the doctor away’ is more accurate than you’d think since a daily dose of an apple is deemed healthy for the human heart. The antioxidant property of apples reduces the oxidation of fats, called lipid peroxidation, and neutralizes triglycerides and various fats found in blood vessels that can exert dangerous pressure. Also, apples contain a very powerful flavonoid called quercetin, which is found in the skin of the fruit. It can reduce inflammation in our blood vessels by reducing the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP). This protein has been linked to inflammation of the cardiovascular system, so a reduction of it through quercetin makes apples very strong heart boosters.
People suffering from rheumatism find apples very useful as they aid in the healing process. Along with this, there are a huge amount of flavonoids found in apples. This has been the most exciting development in apple research and compounds like kaempferol, quercetin, and myricetin have been linked to reducing rheumatoid and inflammatory conditions like arthritis and gout.
Apples are believed to make the eyes stronger and improve eyesight. They also help in treating night blindness. Much of this is due to the fact that apples are rich in flavonoid compounds and antioxidant phytonutrients, which can reduce the impact of free radicals on the eyes while preventing conditions like macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.
Aside from the normal ability of fibrous fruits to make us feel full and increase satiety, thereby reducing appetite and overeating, apples have another unexplained ability to help in weight loss. Studies have shown that apples actually speed up metabolism so that the additional calories consumed after eating an apple don’t register in our body. Meaning, they are burned off quicker, or not absorbed by the body at all. This can be a great news for millions of people struggling with obesity.
Pastes made of apple and honey or apple and milk increase the shine and glow of the skin when topically applied. This is again due to the powerful antioxidants in the skin and flesh of apples. These compounds counteract the damaging effects of free radicals that are directly linked to premature aging, as well as wrinkles, age spots, and other age-related conditions. Its boosting effect on circulation also helps keep the skin looking young by keeping blood flow constant to stimulate the replacement of old cells and repair of the damaged ones.
Uses of Apples
Apples can be eaten raw right off the tree or in a variety of dishes such as fruit salads and custards. Apple juice is also a common drink throughout the world and it is also included in many desserts. These fruits can be baked, minced, mashed, frozen, or even dried into chips as a healthy, sweet snack.
Apart from the fruit, the oil extracted from its seeds is also useful and has many applications especially in the cosmetic industry. The benefits of apple seed oil come from its impressive mineral and protein content and include reducing the appearance of acne, reducing wrinkles, and moisturizing the skin. This oil also helps in preventing skin cancer, boosting skin elasticity, preventing sun damage, and stimulating the production of collagen to produce new, healthy skin cells. It should not be consumed orally but can be used for topical applications.
How to Buy and Store Apples?
When you buy apples, make sure they are firm. Don’t buy the ones that have wrinkles, since they have lost most of their health benefits and nutritional values. Apples that are overripe or are beginning to rot, metabolize their nutritional resources by releasing a compound called ethylene gas. This ethylene gas can stimulate the rapid ripening and rotting of other apples. So be sure to not keep them for too long, and if you do, remove any unusually soft or bruised apples from the bag.