You’ve probably heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” And in fact, apples are one of the most delicious and healthiest fruits around. Among other things, they can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Eating apples regularly offers huge health benefits, says registered dietitian Amber Sommer. In an article from the Cleveland Clinic (USA), she explains what the healthy fruit has to offer.
Excellent source of nutrients
Apples have the greatest health benefits when consumed raw and unpeeled. Juice, apple cider and applesauce are not that healthy because valuable nutrients are lost during cooking and processing.
The nutrients in apples vary a little depending on which variety you eat. Red Delicious apples may be the healthiest variety of apples. The dark red peel contains more antioxidants (substances that protect cells from damage). But all apples are rich in nutrients, including:
Antioxidants: Apple peels are rich in antioxidants, especially quercetin. This nutrient is found in highly pigmented (colorful) foods, including citrus fruits, berries, green tea, and red wine.
Fiber: Apples are a good source of fiber, which aids digestion.
Water: Apples are about 85% water, making them a hydrating snack.
Health Benefits of Apples
The combination of antioxidants and fiber makes apples a nutritional powerhouse. Here are some of the benefits of eating apples for your health:
Stabilization of blood sugar
“When you eat sugary, processed foods like donuts, the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood increases,” explains Sommer. “But if you eat foods that are high in fiber and lower in sugar, such as apples, your glucose levels will remain stable.”
High glucose levels can lead to type 2 diabetes over time. Good news for apple fans: A study of more than 38,000 people found that those who ate more than one apple per day had a 28% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t eat apples.
The benefits likely come from both the antioxidants and fiber in apples:
Antioxidants can protect your pancreas from damage. Your pancreas produces insulin to remove glucose from your blood.
Fiber slows the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream.
Lower cholesterol levels
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease because it clogs arteries and restricts blood flow to the heart. But the antioxidants and fiber in apples are a winning combination for lowering this level. The most prominent type of fiber is pectin, which binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and flushes it out.
Several studies of people with high cholesterol show that eating a few apples per day can reduce total cholesterol levels by about 5 to 8%.
And in a study in which participants consumed a daily serving of 85 grams of dried apples (with no added sugar), their total cholesterol levels reduced by 13% within six months.
Reduce blood pressure
A healthy diet is one way to prevent and manage high blood pressure.
A small Australian study showed that eating apples helped lower blood pressure. Other studies have found mixed results. However, researchers agree that antioxidants in apple peels promote blood circulation. The fiber it contains may also play a role.
Apples contain anti-inflammatory substances – mainly fiber and quercetin, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation, especially in the respiratory tract. According to several scientific studies, eating apples lowers c-reactive proteins in the blood, a sign that chronic inflammation is improving.
Additionally, a study of 1,600 young adults suggested that eating apples and pears may protect against the development of asthma. Other research also suggests improved lung function in people who eat apples.
Satisfy hunger for longer
“Because apples contain a lot of water and fiber, they are a filling snack,” says Sommer. “The fiber slows down digestion, so you feel fuller for longer.” And because apples are low in calories, choosing an apple over higher-calorie snacks like cookies or candy can help maintain a healthy weight.
Eating an apple every day can help you live longer, according to a study. Another study of nearly 40,000 people showed that those who ate apples were 13 to 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who avoided the fruit.
Apples can also help prevent cancer. Research shows that those who eat apples are less likely to develop cancer. But how many apples do you need to eat to lower your risk? A large study of 77,000 people found that those who ate at least one apple a day had a lower risk of lung cancer.
“Apples definitely deserve a place in a healthy diet,” says Sommer. “It is a fruit that can have such a positive effect on your health.” (ad)