An apple a day really does help keep the doctor away. The health benefits of apples are among some of the best in the fruit kingdom. Full of vitamins, minerals, and crucial phytonutrients, this widely available fruit is one you should always keep on hand.
Don’t forget that apples are one of the few fruits that are on the dirty dozen list (listed as #1 with over 56 pesticide residues!) so it is important to always buy organic!
Here are the top 10 health benefits of apples – enjoy!
1. Protect Our Bones
Really? Apples? Apples are one of the only known fruits with the antioxidant flavonoid called phloridzin, which helps increase bone density and can protect older women from osteoporosis. Apples are also high in boron, another mineral (aside from calcium, magnesium and manganese) important for strengthening the bones and preventing fractures.
2. Improve Cardiovascular Health
The beneficial effects of apples also extend to our heart! One study found that individuals who consumed a lot of white-fleshed fruit and vegetables like apples and pears had a 52% lower risk of stroke than those who didn’t. This was likely due to the high concentration of phytochemicals (like carotenoids and flavonoids) in the fruit.
Researchers at the University of California at Davis also found that apples help slow the oxidation process that normally leads to plaque build-up and is responsible for heart disease.
Not to mention, apples are high in potassium, which helps control blood pressure, and thus eases stress on the heart.
3. Cancer Prevention
Apples are a great source of polyphenols, crucial phytonutrients that help heal the body and prevent disease. They are anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic – two properties that make this fruit a cancer-fighting miracle. They are able to induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells alone, and have been shown to prevent colon, breast, lung and skin cancer.
Apples are particularly great for preventing lung cancer, which when compared to other fruit and vegetables, rank incredibly high in cancer-preventative properties!
4. Help Heal The Lungs
Aside from helping prevent lung cancer, apples are also great for healing the lungs and easing asthmatic symptoms. A variety of studies have found that apple intake has been positively linked with greater pulmonary health, mostly due to flavonoid and phenolic acid content which helps reduce airway inflammation and improves breathing (hence, why apple intake has been associated with decreased risk of asthma).
5. Diabetes Prevention
Apples can help significantly lower the risk of type II diabetes. Why? Mainly because their polyphenols are miracle workers at stabilizing blood sugar. They help slow down carbohydrate digestion, reduce the rate of glucose absorption, stimulate the pancreas to secrete more insulin and stimulate the attachment of insulin to more insulin receptors to help increase the flow of sugar out of the bloodstream and into our cells.
6. Reduce Cholesterol
Apples contain a soluble fibre called pectin that helps reduce cholesterol levels. Specifically, it helps sweep out the build-up of cholesterol plaque lining blood vessel walls, therefore reducing the risk of developing atherosclerosis and heart disease. The polyphenols in apples also help prevent oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which normally leads to plaque build-up in arteries.
7. Reduces Risk of Neurodegenerative Disorders
An apple a day may keep Alzheimer’s away. It has been recently found that including fresh apples in your diet can help nourish the brain and improve your memory. Freshly pressed apple juice has been linked with preventing the decline of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory processes. Higher acetylcholine levels can also help slow mental decline in those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants in apples also help protect neuronal cells against neurotoxicity induced by oxidative stress, thereby preventing neurodegenerative disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Improve Eye Health
If you want to help improve poor eyesight or help treat night blindness, apples may be the the fruit you need! They are loaded with vitamins A and C, both of which help strengthen the eyes, and prevent eyesight from worsening. Vitamin A is also important for helping lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration. Researchers have found those that consume the most beta-carotene have a 40% lower risk of developing the disease than those who don’t consume any at all.
9. Highly Anti-Inflammatory
As we have seen throughout this article, apples are full of beneficial anti-inflammatories. Apples provide the body with beneficial anti-inflammatory flavonoids and carotenoids, but it is their polyphenol content that that really helps reduce inflammation. Apple polyphenols even help protect against exercise-induced muscle damage, which thus reduces pain, swelling, and improves post-exercise recovery.
10. Dental Care
Apples are great at helping clean our teeth and gums, helping reduce the incidence of bacteria build-up and cavities in the teeth. This is mainly due to their rich fibre content, and antibacterial qualities that keep bacteria and viruses from infecting the mouth. They also help stimulate the gums and increase saliva flow, which reduces cavity-causing bacterial build-up.
Crunchy foods like apples are wonderful for helping whiten the teeth, too, because they help scrub away stains, almost like a toothbrush.