Health Benefits Of Apples

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Introduction

The phrase, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is a popular adage that has been passed down through generations. This is because apples have been recognised as a healthy and nutritious fruit.1 It is not only delicious but also has a multitude of health benefits. Apples have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.2 In this article, we will explore the health benefits of apples and how you can incorporate them into your diet.

About apples

Apples are a fruit that grows on the Malus domestica tree. They come in various colours, shapes, and sizes, and are widely cultivated in many countries. Apples have a high water content and are low in calories, making them an ideal snack.3 They are also a good source of dietary fibre, which helps to keep the digestive system healthy. Apples can be consumed raw, cooked, or as juice.

Health benefits of apples

Apples are one of the most commonly consumed fruits in the world and for good reason. They are packed with nutrients that offer a wide range of health benefits.4

  • Helps to alleviate chronic diseases

Apples are a rich source of fibre, which helps to promote healthy digestion and can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.5 The fibre in apples also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, making them an ideal snack for people with diabetes.

  • As an antioxidant

Apples are high in antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols, which can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease.5,4 These antioxidants protect the body against oxidative stress, which can lead to cellular damage and chronic inflammation.

  • Source of Vitamin C

Apples also contain vitamin C, which is important for a healthy immune system. Vitamin C helps to boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, which fight infections. Additionally, apples are a good source of potassium, which is important for healthy heart function and blood pressure regulation.5, 4

  • Anti-Inflammatory agent

The natural chemicals (called phytonutrients) in apples have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties,6 which can help reduce the risk of chronic inflammation and related diseases. 

  • Improves cognitive function

In addition, studies7  have found that eating apples can help to improve cognitive function and memory.

Nutrients we can get from apples

Apples are a nutrient-dense fruit that contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. Some of the key nutrients found in apples include fibre, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants.5 4

  • Fibre is one of the most important nutrients in apples, and it is essential for a healthy digestive system8
  • Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that is found in high amounts in apples. This vitamin is essential for the growth and repair of tissues in the body, and it also helps to boost the immune system
  • Potassium  plays a key role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and promoting proper muscle and nerve function5,4
  • Apples are also rich in antioxidants. These compounds include flavonoids, polyphenols, and carotenoids,5,8,4 which can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease
  • In addition to these key nutrients, apples also contain small amounts of other beneficial vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin E, and folate

How to include apples in our diet

There are many ways to incorporate apples into your diet, making it easy to take advantage of their many health benefits. Here are a few ideas for how to include apples in your meals and snacks:9 ,10

  • Eat them raw: One of the simplest ways to enjoy apples is to eat them raw as a snack. Simply wash the apple and slice it into wedges or eat it whole for a quick and easy snack
  • Add them to salads: Apples add a sweet and crunchy flavour to salads and can be paired with a variety of different ingredients.9,10 Try adding sliced apples to a spinach salad with walnuts, feta cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • Bake them: Apples are a versatile ingredient in baked goods and can be used in everything from pies to muffins.9 10 Try making a batch of apple cinnamon muffins for a healthy and delicious breakfast or snack
  • Make apple sauce: Homemade apple sauce is easy to make and can be a healthy alternative to store-bought varieties.9 10 Simply peel and chop the apples, and cook them down in a pot with a little bit of water and cinnamon
  • Juice them: Apples can be juiced on their own or mixed with other fruits and vegetables for a refreshing and healthy drink.9 10

How much is enough?

While apples are a highly nutritious food, it's important to keep in mind that they are just one component of a healthy and balanced diet.11 The recommended amount of apples to consume depends on a person's individual needs and preferences.

The NHS recommends that adults eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, with a serving size defined as one medium-sized piece of fruit or 1/2 cup of chopped fruit12. So, incorporating an apple into your daily diet can help you meet this goal.

However, it's important to note that apples, like all fruits, contain natural sugars. While these sugars are not the same as the added sugars found in many processed foods, they can still contribute to total calorie intake if consumed in excess13. For this reason, it's important to practice portion control and moderation when consuming apples or any other food.

Some people may need to limit their intake of apples due to dietary restrictions or medical conditions. For example, people with diabetes may need to be mindful of the carbohydrate content of apples and adjust their intake accordingly.13 It's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine the appropriate amount of apples and other fruits to include in your diet based on your individual needs and goals.

Side effects

Apples are generally safe for most people to consume, but like any food, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. Here are a few potential side effects of consuming apples:

Digestive issues: Some people may experience bloating, gas, or diarrhoea after consuming apples, particularly if they eat large amounts of them or have a sensitivity to fructose.14 15

Allergies: Although rare, some people may have an allergic reaction to apples, which can cause symptoms such as itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing.16 If you think you may have an allergy, you should consult a healthcare professional.

Pesticide residues: Apples are one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and pesticide residues may be present on the skin16. It's recommended to wash apples thoroughly before consuming or consider purchasing organic apples.

How much to consume

In terms of how much to consume, the recommended amount of apples will vary depending on a person's individual needs and preferences. As mentioned previously, the NHS recommends consuming at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, with a serving size defined as one medium-sized piece of fruit or 1/2 cup of chopped fruit12.

Summary

Apples are a highly nutritious fruit that can provide various health benefits. They are a good source of fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants, and may help reduce the risk of certain health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. There are many ways to incorporate apples into your diet, such as eating them raw, adding them to salads, baking, making applesauce, or juicing them. However, it's important to practice portion control and moderation when consuming apples or any other food, as excess consumption can lead to digestive issues or contribute to calorie intake. It's also important to be aware of potential pesticide residues on apple skin and consider purchasing organic apples. If you have concerns about consuming apples or any other food, it's recommended to speak with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised recommendations based on your individual needs.

References

  1. EverydayHealth.com [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Sep 2]. 8 outstanding health benefits of apples. Available from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/impressive-health-benefits-of-apples/
  2. Bert F, Gualano MR, Camussi E, Pieve G, Voglino G, Siliquini R. Animal Assisted Intervention: A Systematic Review of Benefits and Risks. European Journal of Integrative Medicine [Internet]. 2016 Oct;8(5):695–706. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7185850/
  3. Boyer J, Liu RH. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutr J [Internet]. 2004 Dec [cited 2023 Sep 2];3(1):5. Available from: http://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-3-5
  4. Carlson T. Ways to Incorporate Apples into Your Diet | Berry Chatty [Internet]. Berry Chatty, A Fruit Blog with Taste. 2018a [cited 2023 Feb 17]. Available from: https://www.fruitbouquets.com/fruit-blog/how-tos-fruit-tricks/incorporate-apples-into-diet/
  5. Carlson T. Ways to Incorporate Apples into Your Diet | Berry Chatty [Internet]. Berry Chatty, A Fruit Blog with Taste. 2018b. Available from: https://www.fruitbouquets.com/fruit-blog/how-tos-fruit-tricks/incorporate-apples-into-diet/
  6. Cervoni B. Apple Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits [Internet]. Verywell Fit. 2022. Available from: https://www.verywellfit.com/apples-nutrition-facts-calories-and-their-health-benefits-4117992
  7. James T. 7 Ways to Eat an Apple a Day [Internet]. Healthy Family Project. 2017 [cited 2023 Feb 17]. Available from: https://healthyfamilyproject.com/7-ways-eat-apples-every-day-arent-dessert/
  8. January 18 LT, 2021. Dangerous Side Effects of Eating Too Many Apples, According to Science [Internet]. Eat This Not That. 2021. Available from: https://www.eatthis.com/dangerous-side-effects-eating-too-many-apples/
  9. Ktori S. Studies Find Apple Compounds Boost Neurogenesis, May Improve Brain Function [Internet]. GEN - Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. 2021. Available from: https://www.genengnews.com/news/studies-find-apple-compounds-boost-neurogenesis-may-improve-brain-function/
  10. NHS. Sugar: the facts [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2022. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/
  11. Fruits and Vegetables Serving Sizes [Internet]. www.heart.org. 2010. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/add-color/fruits-and-vegetables-serving-sizes
  12. Are apples causing your stomach problems? [Internet]. Denver 7 Colorado News. 2017 [cited 2023 Feb 17]. Available from: https://www.denver7.com/lifestyle/health/are-apples-causing-your-stomach-problems
  13. Apples [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. 2019. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/apples/
  14. 6 possible side effects of eating too many apples [Internet]. The Times of India. 2021. Available from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/diet/6-possible-side-effects-of-eating-too-many-apples/photostory/80363064.cms
  15. Apples 101: Benefits, Weight Loss Potential, Side Effects, and More [Internet]. EverydayHealth.com. [cited 2023 Feb 17]. Available from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/apples-benefits-weight-loss-potential-side-effects-and-more/#:~:text=There%20are%20no%20general%20side
  16. How many apples should you eat a day? [Internet]. www.vinmec.com. Available from: https://www.vinmec.com/en/news/health-news/nutrition/how-many-apples-should-you-eat-a-day/

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Salma Younas

Doctor of Pharmacy- Pharm-D, University of the Punjab, Pakistan

Salma is a Pharmacist by profession with more than two years of working experience.
She has worked as a Production and Warehouse Pharmacist in well known Pharma industries.
She is now working in a community Pharmacy as a registered Pharmacist and also a freelance medical writer!

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