Health Benefits of Apples: Does an Apple a Day Truly Keep the Doctor Away?

It turns out that old wives tale about the health benefits of apples seems to be based in reality.

A short list of the health benefits of apples includes blood sugar regulation, regulate weight levels, protect bone health, lower cholesterol, prevent breast, lung, colon, and liver cancer, and protection against Alzheimer's and asthma.

Of course, there are so many amazing fruits with incredible health benefits that you shouldn't restrict yourself just to apples, but you should definitely add them into your diet.

Most studies seem to show that you get the most apple nutrition from eating them whole and raw, rather than as applesauce or canned apple juice. That's pretty standard with fruits and vegetables.

Organic apples from a local farm; fresh, seasonal local apples have the most health benefits.

Eating Apples Can Help You Lose Weight

For people looking to lose a little weight, apples are packed with fiber so they help regulate your blood fat levels by pushing out, oxidizing, and cleansing the blood. And, eating apples also helps to make you feel more full so you eat less.

A study found that if you eat one apple about 15 minutes before a meal, you naturally eat about 15% fewer calories at that meal. Rather than having to restrict yourself, you should just listen to your body and stop eating when you are full.

Reducing Your Risk of Developing Cancer

Cancer is one of the scariest diseases, and apples can actually help lower your risk of developing some cancers. A 10,000-person study found that those people who ate the most apples had the lowest chances of developing lung cancer. There's no definite conclusion as to what part of the apple is able to help prevent lung cancer, but scientists think it has to do with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in the apple. Other cancer studies on lab rats have found that those rats who ate the most apples had the highest reduction in the risk of developing breast, liver, and colon cancer.

Just like with lung cancer, apples seem to have a very positive impact on asthma patients. One study even found that patients who ate apples had better reductions in the risk for asthma than those who ate all other fruits and vegetables. Interesting! A few studies have found that children who drink apple juice every day deal with less wheezing than children who only have it once a month.

I'd have to think the same or better would hold true for those who eat a whole apple every day. The same reduction in risk for asthma happens when you eat a lot of apples while pregnant; your children are less likely to develop asthma. So, if your child has asthma, I'd certainly say to follow the "apple a day" rule.

Another Health Benefit of Apples: Lowered Blood Sugar

On a daily basis, the health benefits of apples can help everyone. Apples are able to help us process carbohydrates and regulate how they turn into blood sugar in our body. What this does is make it so our blood sugar levels don't spike as much after eating, and makes it so we don't feel as wonky and tired. The carbohydrates digest slower with the help of polyphenols in apples, and that helps to reduce the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.

Of course, the blood sugar-lowering health benefits of apples are very helpful for diabetics. In addition, there is an acid called galacturonic that comes from the pectin of apples and it lowers the body's need for insulin.

Lower Your "Bad" Cholesterol Levels

Though apples have a good amount of fiber, they actually have less than other fruits and vegetables. However, scientists have found that the fiber combined with the phytonutrients in apples create a situation in the body that is similar to what you get when you eat foods with tons of soluble fiber. So, you can consider it a high-fiber food.

The pectin in apples helps to lower your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels, and the more apples you eat, the more reduction in cholesterol levels you should expect to see. Overall, one of the great health benefits of apples is their ability to improve your cardiovascular health.

Lose weight and lower bad cholesterol levels with apple nutrition.

The color of the apple you're eating will tell you what type of phytonutrients you are absorbing into your body. Red apples have anthocyanins, and the deeper the color the red, the more anthocyanins. When you're eating red apples, you should definitely eat the skin, where most of the anthocyanins are contained.

There are tons of other phytonutrients in apples, throughout the pulp and skin, including quercetin, Kaempferol, myricetin, Chlorogenic, epicatechin, and phloridzin. You can run a search on any of these phytonutrients and find data on what they do in your body, or you can take it from me; it's a good sign that there are so many in apple nutrition.

There are many other studies showing the health benefits of apples, including protection against osteoporosis, increased bone density, and protection from Alzheimer's disease.

Picking and Storing Apples

Apples are the #1 most pesticide-laden fruit on the 2011 dirty dozen list, so I definitely recommend choosing organic apples. In fact, studies have shown that most end up with several different types of pesticides on them because farmers spray multiple fungicides, insecticides, and pesticides. You can't avoid pesticide residue by just peeling the fruit because it sinks completely into the apple, so regardless of whether you're getting whole apples, juice, or cider, it's best to pick organic.

I recommend storing your apples in the fridge to maintain the most apple nutrition.

You know how when you cut an apple, it will start turning brown very quickly? That's because the polyphenols are oxidizing. In order to get the most health benefits of apples, try to eat them very shortly after cutting them open.

Also, if you do see an apple in the bunch that is bruised or cut open, it's best to separate it from the rest of its friends. It will start emitting ethlyene gas, which will cause the other apples to start ripening very quickly, and they can soon become spoiled.

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by Cathleen Woods   |   © Copyright 2008-2016   |

Disclaimer: Everything in this website is based upon information collected by Cathleen Woods, from a variety of sources. It is my opinion and is not intended as medical advice.
It is recommended that you consult with a qualified health care professional before making a diet change.