There is a lot of truth to the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and the health benefits go beyond just the vitamins and fiber they contain. Here are five reasons to include this juicy and versatile fruit in your diet.
If you live near an orchard, have you gone apple picking with your family this season? If so, you’ve probably already experienced the mental and emotional health benefits of mindfully picking these juicy gifts of nature with your loved ones. Follow this up with time together in the kitchen making apple sauce, cider, pies, caramel apples, dried apples, and so much more.
Apples are chock full of essential vitamins, fiber, and minerals, while also being low in sodium, cholesterol, and fat. As a result, they are good for your heart, blood sugar, and bones; research
even points to their ability to reduce cancer risks.
Apples come in a variety of textures, colors, and tastes. By some estimates, there are 2000 varieties of them—some firm, others soft, some sweet, and others tangy to even astringent. Here is a master list
of North American apple varieties to guide you in picking the right apple for your needs.
According to scientists, a medium-sized apple has 95 calories, 1 gram of protein, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and 19 grams of sugar. Despite their simple sugars, apples are weight-loss friendly due to their high fiber and low-calorie count. Let’s look at the other benefits you can draw from consuming these.
1. Heart Health
Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber are proven to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular dangers like strokes. An apple’s fiber content meets 11–14 percent of your daily fiber requirement! Apples are also loaded with polyphenols like quercetin, an antioxidant-rich flavonoid. Studies have shown that consuming apples can reduce bad cholesterol and arterial plaque accumulation by as much as 48 percent, preventing early-stage atherosclerosis.
2. Manage Cholesterol
There have been many credible studies on the cholesterol-lowering abilities of fibers like the pectin found in apples. For example, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition
stated that compared to drinking apple juice, having two raw apples every day for eight weeks lowered cholesterol levels. Another study showed that a similar habit of having two apples daily also reduced cholesterol levels in women in their postmenopausal phase.
Recipe: Baked Apples
3. Manage Diabetes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who eat high-fiber fruits like apples run a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Those with diabetes can control their blood sugar levels by adding apples to their diet.
Apples have a low glycemic index—a measure of how food affects sugar levels in the body—despite their sugars, due to the high fiber content. In addition, the flavonoids present also boost insulin function, which is essential for managing weight and preventing diabetes. A study carried out last year found that people who consumed whole fruits had a 36 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
4. Weight Management
The fiber in apples gives you a sense of satiety for a considerable period of time without loading you up on calories and helps you manage your hunger and appetite.
According to studies, Fuji apples potentially lower cellular lipid levels, an indication of fat present in the body. Additional studies showed that pectin supports the growth of the gut microbiome which helps reduce inflammatory conditions and manage obesity caused by overeating.
5. Cancer Prevention
Apples are also rich in Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect your cells against the effects of free radicals—molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation from the sun, X-rays, or other sources—which play a role in cancer and other diseases
. Studies suggest a higher intake of fruits, including apples, is linked with lowered risk of lung cancer among smokers. Dietary fiber is also linked to preventing and healing other cancers such as colorectal, digestive tract, and breast.
To Peel or Not to Peel…
By removing the peels, you significantly lose the fiber and overall nutritional content. While the apple’s flesh carries essential nutrients, the peel contains specific antioxidants you’ll miss out on by throwing away the peel. If you are concerned about pesticides and other harmful chemicals, use natural herbal cleansing formulations to remove the dirt, wax, and other chemicals.
Because apples are dry and primarily astringent, they can increase vata. Avoid eating raw if you tend toward gas, bloating, or constipation—cooking them will make them easier to digest. Apples are fantastic for pitta types, and for kaphas, the astringent of apples like Granny Smiths will soak up excess fluid in the body.
Need to know your Ayurvedic body type? Take the quiz!
Are apples safe for consumption?
Primarily, apples are very safe for consumption, though avoid eating the seeds as chewing too many can produce cyanide in the body.
Apples also contain a chemical called salicylate, which some people may be allergic to. The allergies may show up as rashes, swelling, or hives.
In addition, the acidity in apples might affect the teeth by accumulating plaque, but brushing and flossing regularly can stop this from happening.
RECIPE: SPICED APPLE STEW
1 apple of your choice, chopped into small cubes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
- Pour about 3 tablespoons of water into a saucepan and add spices.
- Bring the content in the pan to a boil.
- Add the apple cubes and cover the pan with a tight lid.
- Let the spices and apple cubes simmer for about 20 minutes; until the apples turn tender.
- Pour into a bowl and allow it to cool before serving.