15 Delicious Health Benefits of Eating Apples
Though recommended as "an apple a day..." the Fall season especially yearns for their intake! Whether bitten into straight from the apple tree or baked into a fresh apple pie, they are packed with nutrients and offer extensive health benefits!
Apple Nutrients and Health Facts
Apples are substantial carbohydrate and fiber sources, as they lack fat and protein, as indicated below. They contain significant amounts of vitamin C and potassium along with other plant components including quercetin, catechin, and phlorizin. These compounds are noteworthy antioxidants and largely contribute to apple's health benefits.
*Adapted from USDA's Foods Fact Sheet
Health Benefits of Apples
1. Control and Manage Weight
Apples offer a high fiber content at a low calorie cost. Diets high in fiber have been associated with healthy body mass indexes, as fiber offers satiation and may prevent the opportunity of overeating.
2. Reduce Diabetes Risk
Published Harvard research suggests consuming apples (along with blueberries and grapes) is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Specifically, consume apples in their whole form and dismiss juices, as its consumption is linked to a higher risk.
3. Manage Blood Sugars
Though individuals with diabetes may believe the natural sugars in fruit cannot fit into their diet plan, they (including apples) certainly can! It is important to keep blood sugars at bay with a small to medium-sized apple. Further reduce sugar spikes by complimenting with a protein or fat source including peanut butter or seeds and nuts.
4. Reduce Cholesterol Levels
Apples contain soluble fiber, a plant fiber that has the ability to bind with cholesterol. The bound cholesterol is then excreted from the body, thus reducing blood cholesterol levels.
5. Prevent Heart Attacks or Strokes
High cholesterol levels can limit sufficient blood flow and increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Reduced cholesterol levels lowers the risk of both!
6. Promote Digestive Health
Along with soluble fiber, apples also contain insoluble fiber in the skin. Insoluble fiber remains mostly intact in the digestive tract and offers bowel regularity and reduces the risk of bowel-related conditions and diseases.
7. Accelerated Endurance
Quercetin found in apples plays a role in increasing endurance and improving athletic performance. Potassium also offers added endurance benefits, as adequate intake lowers fatigue risk and muscle weakness.
8. Controlled Blood Pressure
Though high fiber intake has shown to maintain a healthy blood pressure, its further ability to do so may be linked to increased uric acid in the blood, consequently boosting antioxidant levels. Uric acid kept at moderated levels may protect the blood vessels against damage, thus keeping blood pressure within a healthy range.
9. Respiratory Health
Though not new knowledge, a research back in 2001 found healthier lungs may be attributed to apple intake! The researchers discovered individuals that included apples (along with tomatoes) within their diet reported less wheezing and demonstrated a greater lung capacity. Quercetin may also be lung-protective against pollutants and cigarette smoke.
10. Ward Off Alzheimer's Disease
Specific to apple juice, recent research discovered regular consumption may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's as much as 75 percent! Drinking apple juice can help improve memory by preventing the decline of an essential neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. But when choosing apple juice, stray away from concentrates and stick to real fruit juices without added sugars.
11. Treat Chronic Infections of the Prostate
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin might help reduce inflammation of the prostate. Additionally, research suggests quercetin can halt the progression of prostate cancer.
The vitamin E content found in apples may be valuable in maintaining good eye sight. Specifically, studies have shown the antioxidant properties of vitamin E reduces the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract formation.
In conjunction with the high antioxidant properties of apples, the soluble fiber content may further boost the immune system. A strong immune system reduces the risk of infection and aids in quicker healing.
14. Bone Health
Research has shown diets rich in nutrients, especially from fruits and vegetables, is associated with improved bone health. Additionally, although researched in an animal study, phlorizin found in apples demonstrated enhanced femoral bone density.
15. Cancer Prevention
Apple's fiber content can reduce the risk of colon cancer. But the accumulation of all of apple's antioxidant properties have the highest ability to combat cancer by protecting the cells against damage.