Nutrition-packed apples may indeed help keep the doctor away!
With the Fall season upon us, it is a wonderful time to enjoy eating lots of apples. Not only do apples taste delicious on their own or when added to dishes, but they come loaded with health benefits.
Apples have been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved gut health and reduced risk of stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and some cancers.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a medium-sized apple is a good source of fiber, containing 4.8 grams of the nutrient. The same apple is also a good source of vitamin C, offering 9.2 milligrams, along with small amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
Here’s why else the phrase “an apple a day helps keep the doctor away” may have some truth to it:
Apples Can Lower High Cholesterol
Studies have linked apple consumption with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, which may be related to the cholesterol-lowering benefits of the soluble fiber found in apples. According to the University of Illinois, soluble fiber helps prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, therefore lowering the incidence of atherosclerosis (restricted blood flow in the arteries due to plaque buildup) and heart disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two apples a day helped study participants lower both their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Apples Can Aid Digestion
You’ve likely heard that fiber is good for digestion — and what you’ve heard is true! Apples have both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, which are important for optimal digestion. Be sure to eat the apple skin, which contains much of the apple’s insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps slow down digestion, allowing you to feel full, and also slows the digestion of glucose, which helps control your blood sugar. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber can help move food through your system and aid with constipation and regularity.
Apples Can Support a Healthy Immune System
Who doesn’t want a stronger immune system going into autumn? Apples can be an important tool in your immune-supporting tool kit. Apples may bolster immunity, in part because they contain immune-boosting vitamin C. One study found that regular consumption of vitamin C plays many roles in helping the immune system function. For example, it can help strengthen the epithelial (a type of tissue) barrier against pathogens and guard against environmental oxidative stress.
Apples Can Reduce Insulin Resistance
If you have type 2 diabetes, consider adding apples to your diet. It is a common misconception that people with diabetes shouldn’t eat fruit. Apples’ soluble fiber can help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and may improve blood sugar levels. Plus, a healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber can lower your odds of developing type 2 diabetes, reduce insulin resistance and improve blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
Apples Can Play a Role in Cancer Prevention
While there’s no one surefire way to prevent cancer, apples may help play a role in fighting off these diseases. Apples may reduce the risk of certain cancers, which researchers attribute to the antioxidants found in apples. Studies suggest that apples are high in antioxidants, and in laboratory studies, these antioxidants have been shown to limit cancer cell growth.
Apples Can Support Healthy Weight Loss
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy weight — or shed pounds — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At only 95 calories for a medium-sized apple, this fruit is one you’ll want to keep on hand when sweet cravings strike. Apples are filled with dietary fiber that slows digestion and the rise of blood sugar, keeping you full and less likely to overeat.
Apples Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Research published in August 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults ages 50 and older who included only small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods like apples in their diet were 2 to 4 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and related types of dementia over 20 years compared with people who ate more flavonoid-rich foods. Quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples, protects neurons from oxidative damage and contains other anti-Alzheimer’s disease properties.