The apple tree is native to Asia and Europe, and is now grown worldwide in temperate regions. There are more than 7000 varieties of apples throughout the world ranging from bright green to deep red. Some apples are sweet and highly aromatic, while others are tart and very juicy.
Apples are a very versatile fruit that can be consumed and prepared in a variety of ways, from salads to desserts to main courses as well as be canned or juiced.
Apart from that, apple also provides many positive health benefits. In fact, many studies have indicated the effects of apples in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and aid in weight loss.
The base for all of the apples health benefits is in fact that they are extremely rich in pythochemicals, bioactive compounds that acts as antioxidants to protect the body’s cells from free radical damage. Now let’s take a look at the 15 health benefits of apples:
1. Prevent Heart Disease
Apples contain quercetin, which has been shown to protect against heart disease. In the Women’s Health Study, involving nearly 40,000 women, found that those who consume an apple a day had a 13-22 percent decrease in cardiovascular disease risk.
2. Lower LDL Cholesterol
Apple is a good source of pectin which help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Pectin can bind cholesterol in the gut, thereby preventing its absorption into the bloodstream. People who ate two apples a day may decrease their cholesterol levels by up to 16 percent.
3. Prevent Cancers
The quercetin found in apple helps prevent oxygen molecules from damaging individual cells. This can prevent cell changes which can lead to the development of cancer cells.
According to a Hawaiian study involving 10,000 people, those who ate the most apples had a 50 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer. A study on mice at Cornell University found that rats fed one apple per day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 17 percent and those fed three apples per day reduced their risk by 39 percent.
4. Diabetes Management
Pectin found in apples supplies D-galacturonic acid to the body which lowers the body’s need for insulin and assist in the management of diabetes. A study conducted in 2005 found that women who eat at least one apple a day have a 28 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t eat apples.
5. Improve Digestive Health
Apples are rich in fiber which is known to help improve digestion. This due to its soluble nature and the ability to bind cholesterol or toxins in the body and helps remove it from the body. Drinking an apple juice every morning on an empty stomach will keep your digestive system healthy.
6. Keep the Teeth and Gums Healthy
The fiber in apples can help cleanse the teeth. The fibrous content of apples cleans teeth by acting as a toothbrush and scrubbing away plaque from teeth, and removing other food debris. The acidity in an apple can also helps prevent tooth decay by killing off bad bacteria that cause tooth decay. Be sure to leave the skin on the apple, as it is full of the mouth-healthy fiber that helps keep teeth and gums clean.
7. Strengthen the Bones
Apple contains a flavonoid called phloridzin which has been shown to protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and also may increase the bone density. Apples also contain boron, a trace mineral that helps strengthen bones.
8. Boost Immune System
The soluble fiber like pectin in apples may reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. According to a research from University of Illinois, soluble fiber strengthens the immune system immune by increasing the production of an anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-4.
In the study, lab mice were fed low-fat diets that were identical except that they contained either soluble or insoluble fiber. After six weeks on the diet, the rats had distinctly different responses when the scientists induced illness by introducing a substance (lipopolysaccharide) that causes the body to mimic a bacterial infection.
Those on the diets including soluble fiber were only half as sick as the other group, and they recovered 50 percent more faster.
9. Aid in Weight Loss
Apples are low in calories. An average size of apple only has only about 80 calories, meaning it has high water content relative to their caloric content. This allows you to have a greater sense of fullness while taking fewer calories. A study shown that women who ate three apples per day lost more weight while dieting than those who do not eat apple while dieting.
10. Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
According to a study on mice at Cornell University, the quercetin in apples may protect brain cells from free radical damage that may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
11. Lower Parkinson’s Disease Risk
A study at Harvard Medical School found that men who ate five or more servings of apples per week showed a 46 percent lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease compared with those who ate less than one apple a month.
12. Promote Hair growth
According to a study from University of Tsukuba, unripe apples contain Procyanidin B2, a natural compound that can trigger hair growth. Although not as highly concentrated, eating a ripe apple gives you some of this compound along with all of the antioxidant benefits.
13. Relieve Asthma
A study from UK reports that children born to women who eat a lot of apples during pregnancy have a lower chance of developing asthma than children whose mothers ate few apples. Another study shows that children with asthma who drank apple juice on a daily basis suffered from less wheezing than children who drank apple juice only once per month.
14. Prevent Cataracts
Recent long-term studies suggest that people who eat a diet rich in antioxidants like apples are 10-15 percent less likely to develop cataracts.
15. Treat Anemia
Apples are also packed with iron which are useful to treat anemia, particularly iron deficiency anemia. To prevent anemia, you can eat it raw or you can make apple juice and drink it.
To fully benefit from the fruit, consume apple with skin, as the skin is the most nutritive part of the apple. Remember that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.