The health benefits of apples include prevention of 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, gout, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. 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 (Malus domestica) are pomaceous fruits produced by apple tree that belongs to the Rosaceae family. 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.
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!
Apples are free of fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Antioxidants, high dietary fiber, vitamin C, and a few vitamin B are responsible for the long list of health benefits attributed to apples. They are energy-dense and water-rich fruits which helps you feel full. They are rightly called ‘nutritional powerhouse’.
The other important nutrients in apple include vitamin K, 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 also 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, 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 have shown moderate improvement in treating various types of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer. However, 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.
Apples contain pectin which is a type of fiber that acts like a probiotic. 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 an improved health by maximizing nutrient uptake and eliminating harmful bacteria and toxins.
Studies have shown that regular apple intake reduces the risk of thrombotic strokes in both men and women.
Apples are useful in treating anemia since they are a rich source of iron. By increasing the number of red blood cells in the body, apples not only prevent anemia but also ensure a proper oxygenation of essential organ systems. This results in enhanced blood circulation and proper functioning of the organ systems.
Boost Immune System
Apples rich in vitamin C, antioxidant compounds and protein can have a major role in preventing weakness, boosting immunity, and improving muscle tone. If you want to gain weight, apples should be a part of your daily diet. They also help in detoxifying the body and improving the overall health.
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 apple helps in cleaning both, the teeth and gums. When you eat apples, the fiber in them cleanses the teeth, while the antibacterial properties of this fruit keep bacteria and viruses from infecting the body. Apples also stimulate the secretion of saliva (an alkaline compound).which reduces the ability of bacteria to multiply and grow in your mouth.
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. In terms of Parkinson’s, apples stop the gradual breakdown of dopamine-producing nerve cells, which can be an underlying cause of the disease.
Boost Brain Health
Apples increase the amount of acetylcholine in the brain, which is linked to improving concentration, problem-solving, and memory.
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.
Prevent Heart Diseases
Apples help lower the risk of heart stroke and various other heart ailments. 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. The polyphenol epicatechin also lowers the blood pressure in the body.
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. Eating apples every day results in 23% decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and 4% increase in HDL (good) cholesterol in just six months.
Improve Bone Health
Compounds like kaempferol, quercetin, and myricetin present in apple have been linked to reducing inflammatory conditions like arthritis and gout. Thus, people suffering from rheumatism find apples very useful as they aid in the healing process.
Apples help to prevent conditions like macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. They also make the eyes stronger and improve eyesight and help in treating night blindness. Apples are rich in flavonoid compounds and antioxidant phytonutrients, which reduce the impact of free radicals on the eyes and prevent the various issues.
The water and fiber in apples make us feel and increase satiety, thereby reducing appetite and overeating. 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. can be a great news for millions of people struggling with obesity.
Apples also increase 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.
Protect From NSAIDs
Catechin and chlorogenic acid found in apples help protect the stomach lining from injury due to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are a class of painkillers which may injure the stomach cells.
The rich source of pectin in apples helps in controlling excess cholesterol in the body, solidification of which results in gallstones.
Rich Source of Vitamin C
One large apple provides approximately 11% (for men) and 14% (for women) of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. This essential vitamin helps increase the immunity against infections and diseases. The ascorbic acid reserves found in apple helps in collagen formation which provides a range of benefits for the skin.
The abundant fiber in apples helps in preventing constipation and straining too much pressure during excretion. Thus, they help alleviate hemorrhoids.
Applying apple juice to scalp prevents dandruff. Washing the hair and finally rinsing it from apple juice gives it a healthy shiny look. It also acts as a good conditioner.
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 is 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 the ones 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 ones that are firm
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 ones 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 but 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 as well as the infant.
- 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.