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We’ve all heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but do you know the facts behind this simple catchphrase?
I’m a huge fan of apples for their gut health benefits and their easy accessibility. While we only see a few varieties in the United States, there are over 7,500 types of apples around the world. Whatever varieties you enjoy the most, there are plenty of benefits to reap.
Let’s dive into some health facts about apples and how you can incorporate more into your diet.
Apples have a rich nutritional profile. These crisp and juicy fruits are a good source of dietary fiber, supporting digestive health and helping you feel full. Apples are also low in calories, making them a nice choice for those aiming to manage their weight.
Packed with essential micronutrients like vitamin C, apples also help support immune health and overall wellness. Additionally, apples provide a mix of minerals like potassium, involved in heart health and maintaining proper fluid balance in the body.
Apple skin contains a significant portion of the fruit’s beneficial compounds. For example, the peels are packed with antioxidants, which help combat oxidative stress, protect the body’s cells, and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
One medium apple provides the following nutritional profile:
- Calories: 104
- Protein: 0.5 grams
- Total Fat: 0.3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 28 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Total Sugar: 21 grams
- Potassium: 214 mg
- Vitamin C: 9 mg
- Vitamin A: 6 mcg
6 Health Benefits of Apples
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to how apples can benefit your body. Here are six reasons why an apple a day is a no-brainer for your health.
1. Heart Health
Apples offer a range of potential cardiovascular benefits. One attribute worth noting is the amount of apple fiber, particularly soluble fiber like pectin, they contain. This type of fiber may help reduce cholesterol levels, as it prevents the absorption of cholesterol from the diet.
Apples also contain antioxidants that may help lower the risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Additionally, the potassium content in apples supports heart function by regulating blood pressure. The combination of these elements makes apples a valuable addition to a heart-healthy diet.
2. Mindful Eating
The high fiber content and crunchy texture make apples a satisfying and nutritious snack for those looking to eat with intention.
The apple fiber contributes to a feeling of fullness, reducing the likelihood of overeating. The act of chewing apples requires time and effort, which can slow you down and enhance the sensory experience of eating, potentially preventing mindless snacking.
3. Blood Sugar Control
Apples are a great addition to your diet if you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels. The soluble fiber found in apples can help stabilize blood sugar by slowing the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
This gradual release of sugars into the bloodstream helps prevent rapid spikes and crashes in blood glucose levels. You can help slow this process further by pairing your apple with some healthy fats and protein, such as a handful of nuts.
Additionally, the polyphenols in apples may improve insulin sensitivity, meaning your body can more effectively respond to insulin, keeping blood sugar more stable.
4. Digestive Health
Thanks to fiber and other beneficial compounds, eating apples is a great way to support gut health. Researchers think apples can improve the health of your gut microbiome (the community of bacteria living in your digestive tract) in a way that benefits other areas of your health, like your heart.
The insoluble fiber in apples adds bulk to your stool, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. (Check out my blog post on why apple juice makes you poop!).
Meanwhile, soluble fibers like pectin act as a prebiotic, nourishing the beneficial bacteria in your gut and supporting a healthy microbiome. Apples also contain natural sugars, such as fructose, which can be easier on the digestive system compared to some other sweeteners.
5. Antioxidant Properties
Apples are rich in antioxidants that work to neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cellular damage and contribute to aging and various diseases.
They are a byproduct of our exposure to everyday things like food, environmental contaminants, smoking, alcohol consumption, and inflammation. Consuming antioxidants from foods like apples is one of our best defenses against inflammation and chronic conditions that can result.
6. Cancer Prevention
The antioxidants in apples may also offer cancer prevention benefits. The diverse array of polyphenols, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals fight oxidative stress, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and reduce inflammation.
Specifically, flavonoids like quercetin in apples have been associated with a lowered risk of certain cancers, including lung and colorectal cancer. Additionally, the high fiber content in apples may contribute to cancer prevention by promoting gut health and regular bowel movements.
While no single food can guarantee immunity against cancer, incorporating apples as part of a balanced diet may help lower the risk.
Incorporating Apples into Your Diet
Whether you’re seeking the benefits of green apples or the unique flavor of a Pink Lady, apples are among the easiest fruits to add to your diet. Enjoy them on their own, paired with something tasty, or used as an ingredient in a recipe.
- Salads: Add apple slices to salads for a burst of sweetness and crunch. They pair well with both savory and sweet salad combinations.
- Smoothies: Blend apples into your morning smoothies for a refreshing flavor. Combine with yogurt, greens, and frozen fruits for a nutrient-packed beverage.
- Oatmeal or Cereal: Dice apples and mix them into your morning oatmeal or cereal to add natural sweetness and a dose of fiber.
- Baking: Use apples in baking for a healthier twist. Incorporate them into muffins, pancakes, cupcakes, or even bake them with cinnamon for a easy and delicious dessert.
- Cheese Pairing: Combine apples with sliced cheese or a cheese dip for a delicious and balanced snack. The sweet and savory combination is both satisfying and nutritious.
- Chutneys and Sauces: Create homemade apple chutneys or sauces to accompany meat dishes. The natural sweetness of apples complements various savory flavors.
- Sandwiches: Add thin apple slices to sandwiches for a crisp texture and a hint of sweetness.
How Many Apples Can You Eat a Day?
The recommended daily intake of fruits, including apples, varies based on factors such as age, sex, tolerance, and overall health. However, a general guideline suggested by health authorities is to aim for at least 2 servings of fruit per day.
In the context of apples, this could mean eating two medium-sized apples to meet your daily fruit requirements. Just remember that it takes more than just apples to make a healthy diet; include foods like veggies, legumes, lean proteins, and whole grains for the most benefit.
An Apple a Day: A Delicious Addition for a Healthier You
Apples are one of the most widely consumed fruits for a reason. Beyond being delicious and inexpensive, they’re also packed with nutrients and compounds that support your health.
Research shows that eating apples has many benefits. It can support healthy blood sugar, heart and digestive health, weight management, and help reduce overall disease risk. Enjoy apples on their own, as part of a balanced snack, or as an ingredient in recipes.
Other Apple Articles You May Enjoy
Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes – uses applesauce as a main ingredient
A Fermented Dairy Dessert Board – apples are my fave fruit for these two dips
Is Your Diet Making You Constipated? – apples can be a good food to help constipation
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Amanda is a pizza loving registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in mindfulness and gut health. She quickly realized that gut health goes beyond the gut; it is also about honoring our gut feelings. She is the creator of The Mindful Gut™ which uses science and strategy to help people improve their gut health.