Fresh apples signal healthy — bright red with an amazing aroma.
We have heard the saying “an apple a day,” but with exotic fruits getting the headlines, what are the benefits of the ordinary apple? According to research, apples may have beneficial effects for diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and asthma.
The emerging data on apples is impressive and should have a profound impact on making healthy eating choices. Apples are packed with powerful phytonutrients that can support the body’s healing and disease-fighting ability.
Apples are a rich source of beneficial antioxidants such as flavonoids, like quercetin, as well as carotenoids. These compounds are thought to help protect the body against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is believed to contribute to aging and disease, so apples may help us stay more youthful and healthy. Apples also contain vitamin C, boron, and fiber.
Apples and Diabetes
In the Women’s Health Study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, apple consumption was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. According to the study, apples were the only flavonoid-rich food significantly associated with lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Apples and Heart Disease
In a study conducted in Finland, apple consumption was associated with lower incidence of coronary mortality for both men and women.
Apples and Asthma
Apple consumption was associated with a lower incidence of asthma, a study in England found. The study speculated that apples could have protective properties with respect to asthma, based on their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Apples and Cholesterol
Apples are a good food source of pectin, a type of dietary fiber. Soluble fiber from food sources produces short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the intestine. SCFAs have a number of positive effects on the body: they nourish the cells of the large intestine, stimulating healing. When absorbed from the intestine, they travel to the liver and can decrease the liver’s production of cholesterol, lowering blood cholesterol levels.
How to Get the Benefit of Apples
To get the most nutrition, stick with the whole fruit, rather than the juice. Why? Processing apples into apple cider or juice can remove 90-97 percent of the antioxidants.
Apple varieties can also have an impact on nutrition. One laboratory test found that among the 10 most popular varieties in the U.S., Fuji apples were the champ, with the highest flavonoid and phenolic content. Red Delicious were also ranked high in beneficial nutrients. Studies also showed that apples held up well to cold storage, retaining nutritional values.
With the exciting health benefits coming out of this research, an apple a day sounds like a great idea.