Everyone has heard the old saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But even if you’re well-aware that apples are good for you, you might be curious as to what exactly makes them so healthy. Often ranked among the healthiest foods, apples are known for including a number of important nutritional benefits of apple
Apples are high in fiber, vitamin C, and various antioxidants. They are also very filling, considering their low calorie count. Studies show that eating apples can have multiple benefits for your health
The satisfaction of crunching on a fresh, juicy apple is a sensory experience shared by people from the past to the present. Apples come in thousands of varieties and they are one of the most popular fruits around the world. While apples may not seem like the most exotic or interesting fruit, their nutritional value shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has yet to be proven wrong.
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,” says Jessica Levinson, RDN, a culinary nutrition expert in Westchester, New York.
Apples are rich in quercetin and pectin, both of which are credited for supplying apples with their health benefits. Quercetin is a flavonoid, a type of naturally occurring plant chemical that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that may help prevent constipation and have a modest effect on lowering LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. Pectin is also fermented by beneficial bacteria in the colon, which produces short chain fatty acids that may play a role in the prevention of chronic diseases, including certain cancers and bowel disorders.
Apples are high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants,” said Laura Flores, a nutritionist based in San Diego. “These polyphenols are found in both the skin of the apples as well as in the meat, so to get the greatest amount of benefits of apple , eat the skin of the apple.”
All of these benefits of apple mean that apples may mitigate the effects of asthma and Alzheimer’s disease, while assisting with weight management, bone health, pulmonary function and gastrointestinal protection.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” the saying goes. Considering the many health benefits that come with eating apples, this dietary proverb may not be too far from the truth. Here are a few of the health benefits you can get from eating green apples.
Apple Nutrition Facts
This nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one medium-sized (182g) apple (3” in diameter).
- Calories: 95
- Fat: 0.3g
- Sodium: 1.8mg
- Carbohydrates: 25g
- Fiber: 4.4g
- Sugars: 18.9g
- Protein: 0.5g
A medium apple has 25 grams of carbohydrates, with 4.4 grams of fiber and about 19 grams of natural sugar.
Apples have a low glycemic index between 34–38.2
There is less than 1/2 gram of fat per medium-sized apple.
Apples are low in protein. A medium apple has just a 1/2 gram of protein.
What Vitamins and Minerals are in Apples?
Apples are a good source of potassium and beta carotene. They provide some vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and calcium.
Apples contain a high amount of vitamin C. This is a powerful natural antioxidant that can help boost your body’s resistance to both infectious agents and damage caused by free radicals. Each time you eat an apple, you’ll get a healthy dose of this important vitamin.
B-complex vitamins are also found in apples. This includes riboflavin, thiamin and vitamin B-6, all of which are essential in maintaining red blood cells and keeping your nervous system strong and healthy.
Apples include vitamin K as well. This vitamin helps to make proteins, which strengthens your bones and encourages normal blood clotting.
Vitamin E is found in smaller amounts in apples compared to these other vitamins. However, this vitamin does contribute to healthier skin and a stronger immune system.
Minerals: When you eat apples, you’ll get a boost of important minerals like calcium, potassium and phosphorus. These minerals are required by the body in order to perform various functions, like strengthening your bones (calcium), building muscle (potassium) and filtering out waste (phosphorus).
Health Benefits of Apples
Blood Sugar Control and Type 2 Diabetes
Some evidence suggests that eating apples can help lower blood sugar levels and protect against diabetes.
Some of the antioxidants in apples may also slow down your digestion and absorption of sugars.
In one study in 38,018 women, eating 1 or more apples per day was linked to a 28% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Apples May Be Good for Weight Loss
Apples are high in fiber and water — two qualities that make them filling.
In one study, people who ate apple slices before a meal felt fuller than those who consumed applesauce, apple juice, or no apple products.
In the same study, those who started their meal with apple slices also ate an average of 200 fewer calories than those who didn’t.
In another 10-week study in 50 overweight women, participants who ate apples lost an average of 2 pounds (1 kg) and ate fewer calories overall, compared to those who ate oat cookies with a similar calorie and fiber content).
Researchers think that apples are more filling because they’re less energy-dense, yet still deliver fiber and volume.
Furthermore, some natural compounds in them may promote weight loss.
A study in obese mice found that those given a supplement of ground apples and apple juice concentrate lost more weight and had lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol than the control group
Promotes Heart Health
Fruits and vegetables are the mainstays of a heart-healthy eating plan. Naturally low in sodium and high in potassium, plant foods prevent dangerous elevations in blood pressure. Whole apples are a good source of fiber, which is known to lower cholesterol levels. In addition, apples provide numerous anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce the overall risk of heart disease.
Neurological Health and Dementia
A 2019 laboratory study concluded that quercetin has a neuroprotective effect, possibly because it prevents the creation of reactive species. It appears to help neurons survive and continue to function. It may therefore help prevent age-related neuron loss.
In 2015, the results of a mouse study suggested that high dose quercetin supplementation may help protect cells from the type of damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
It is worth noting that most studies of this type used high doses of quercetin that are unlikely to be present in normal dietary sources. In addition, scientists need to do more studies in humans before they can confirm that quercetin improves neurological health in people.
Reduce Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Eating as few as a couple of green apples each week may reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, according to one study, though more research needs to be done. It remains unclear whether the compounds in green apples help people manage their diabetes symptoms.
Apples May Lower High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Savor a juicy apple and you may help keep your ticker healthy in the process. “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,” says Anzlovar.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gellike material, according to the Mayo Clinic. 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. It can also help lower blood pressure levels. A study found that a higher intake of soluble fiber was associated with a decreased cardiovascular disease risk.
Research shows that eating apples (or pears) regularly was associated with a 52 percent lower stroke risk. Furthermore, a study published in February 2020 in 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.
Many test-tube and animal studies suggest that apple phytonutrients can protect against cancers of the lungs and colon.
Potential evidence exists from studies in people as well.
One study indicated that those who consumed 1 or more apples per day were at a lower risk of cancer, including a 20% and 18% lower risk of colorectal and breast cancers, respectively.
They May Have Prebiotic Effects and Promote Good Gut Bacteria
Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic. This means it feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
Your small intestine doesn’t absorb fiber during digestion. Instead, it goes to your colon, where it can promote the growth of good bacteria. It also turns into other helpful compounds that circulate back through your body.
New research suggests that this may be the reason behind some of the protective effects of apples against obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Reduces Asthma Symptoms
The quercetin in apples is also beneficial for people with asthma. Studies show that quercetin suppresses inflammation and effectively reduces the severity of food allergies and respiratory issues.6 Including apples as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for asthma can help keep symptoms at bay.
Green apples contain a compound called pectin, a fiber source that works as a prebiotic to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. The pectin found in green apples can help you break down foods more efficiently.
The high fiber content in green apples can have other impacts on your digestive health as well. Fiber is shown to stimulate the digestive system, helping with both constipation and diarrhea. People with Irritable B owel S yndrome and other digestive disorders may find relief for their symptoms by adding more fiber-rich foods into their diets.
Apples Can Support a Healthy Immune System
Who doesn’t want a stronger immune system going into autumn? Apples might be an important tool in your immune-supporting tool kit.
According to research in animals, a diet filled with soluble fiber helped convert immune cells that were pro-inflammatory into anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting ones. Another animal study, published in May 2018 in the journal Immunity, found that a diet high in dietary fiber protected mice against the flu. Whether those effects would be seen in humans is unclear until there are more studies.
Still, there’s reason to believe that apples may bolster immunity, in part because they contain immune-boosting vitamin C. A review published in November 2017 in the journal Nutrients found that vitamin C plays many roles in helping the immune system function, such as by strengthening the epithelial (a type of tissue) barrier against pathogens and guarding against environmental oxidative stress, such as pollution to radiation, according to research.
Apples May Be Good for Bone Health
Eating fruit is linked to higher bone density, which is a marker of bone health.
Researchers believe that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in fruit may help promote bone density and strength.
Some studies show that apples, specifically, may positively affect bone health.
In one study, women ate a meal that either included fresh apples, peeled apples, applesauce, or no apple products. Those who ate apples lost less calcium from their bodies than the control group
An older study from 2000 looked at how consuming apples over 28 years affected the risk of stroke in 9,208 people.
The authors found that those who ate the most apples had a lower risk of thrombotic stroke.
Apples contain many nutrients that may lower the risk of stroke. One 2017 review found, for example, that people who consume the most fiber appear to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
A medium sized apple around 3 inches in diameter and weighing 182 grams (g) provides 4.37 g of fiber. That is around 13–20% of an adult’s daily requirement, depending on their age and sex.
Apples May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Time to start eating more apples and other flavonoid-rich foods like berries and tea. Research published in August 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults age 50 and older who included only a small amount of flavonoid-rich foods like berries, apples, and tea in their diet were a whopping 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.
On top of that, a review published in January 2020 in the journal Biomolecules found that quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples, protects neurons from oxidative damage and contains other anti-Alzheimer’s disease properties, too. But, the researchers say, more research needs to be done outside of a laboratory setting.
“Eating apples in excess will not cause many side effects,” Flores said. “But as with anything eaten in excess, apples may contribute to weight gain.”
Furthermore, apples are acidic, and the juice may damage tooth enamel. A study published in 2011 in the Journal of Dentistry found that eating apples could be up to four times more damaging to teeth than carbonated drinks.
However, according to the lead researcher, David Bartlett, head of prosthodontics at the Dental Institute at King’s College in London, “It is not only about what we eat, but how we eat it.” Many people eat apples slowly, which increases the likelihood that acids will damage tooth enamel.
“Snacking on acidic foods throughout the day is the most damaging, while eating them at meal times is much safer,” Bartlett said in a statement from King’s College. “An apple a day is good, but taking all day to eat the apple can damage teeth.”
Dentists recommend cutting up apples and chewing them with the back teeth. They also recommend rinsing the mouth with water to help wash away the acid and sugars.