With over 7,000 different cultivars available worldwide, it’s no surprise that apples are the most widely consumed fruit globally.
From sweet red varieties, like Red Delicious, Fuji or Gala, to tangy green ones, like Granny Smith there sure is an apple for everyone.
They’re commonly used in recipes, like pies, cookies, muffins, jam, salads, oatmeal, or smoothies. They also make a great snack on their own or wedged and smeared with nut butter.
In addition to their culinary versatility and numerous colors and flavors to choose from, apples are an exceptionally healthy fruit with many research-backed benefits. Below are some of these benefits.
Apples are considered nutrient-dense fruits, meaning they provide a lot of nutrients per serving. The current Dietary Guidelines recommend 2 cups of fruit daily for a 2,000-calorie diet, emphasizing whole fruits, like apples.
One medium 7-ounce (200-grams) apple offers the following nutrients: Calories: 104, Carbs: 28 grams, Fiber: 5 grams, Vitamin C: 10% of the Daily Value (DV), Copper: 6% of the DV, Potassium: 5% of the DV, Vitamin K: 4% of the DV.
The same serving also provides 2–5% of the DV for vitamins E, B1, and B6.
Vitamin E serves as a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin B1 also known as thiamine is needed for growth and development, and vitamin B6 is essential for protein metabolism.
Apples are also a rich source of polyphenols, an important group of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells from free radicals — harmful molecules that contribute to the development of chronic conditions, like heart disease and cancer.
To get the most out of apples, leave the skin on, as it contains half of the fiber and most of the polyphenols.
May support weight loss
Apples are high in fiber and water, two qualities that make them filling.
An increasing feeling of fullness works as a weight-loss strategy, as it helps manage your appetite. This, in turn, might lead you to reduce your energy intake.
In one study, eating whole apples increased feelings of fullness for up to 4 hours longer than consuming equal amounts of apple purée or juice. This happened, because whole apples reduce gastric emptying — the rate at which your stomach empties its contents.
Research also suggests apple intake may significantly reduce Body Mass Index (BMI), a weight-related risk factor for heart disease.
Interestingly, apple polyphenols may also have anti-obesity effects.
May promote gut health
Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic. This means it feeds your gut microbiota, which is the good bacteria in your gut.
Being involved in many functions related to both health and disease, your gut microbiota plays an essential role in your overall well-being. A healthy gut is often key for better health.
Since dietary fiber cannot be digested, pectin reaches your colon intact, promoting the growth of good bacteria. It especially improves the ratio of Bacteriodetes to Firmicutes, the two main types of bacteria in your.
New research suggests that, by beneficially altering your gut microbiota, apples may help protect against chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Might help prevent cancer
Antioxidants in apples may offer beneficial effects against certain types of cancers, including lung, breast, and digestive tract cancers.
Test-tube studies suggest that these effects may be attributed to apple polyphenols keeping cancerous cells from multiplying.
What’s more, one study in women reported that higher apple intakes were linked to a lower risk of cancer death. Apples’ fiber content may also contribute to their cancer-fighting properties.
For example, another test-tube study found that apple pectin fiber could inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and even trigger their death.
However, further research in humans is needed to better understand the possible link between apples and cancer prevention — for example, to identify adequate amounts and eating timing.
Could help fight Asthma
Antioxidant-rich apples may help protect your lungs from oxidative damage.
An excess of harmful molecules called free radicals can cause oxidative damage. This may lead to inflammatory and allergenic responses in your body.
Apple skin is rich in the antioxidant quercetin, which can help regulate your immune system and reduce inflammation. Theoretically, this could make apples effective against late phases of bronchial asthma responses.
Supporting this, test-tube and animal studies suggest quercetin may be a suitable treatment for allergic inflammatory diseases like asthma and sinusitis.
Similarly, other compounds found in apples, including ones called proanthocyanidins, may reduce or prevent allergic asthma airway inflammation.
Apples are an incredibly nutritious fruit that offers multiple health benefits.
They’re rich in fiber and antioxidants. Eating them is linked to a lower risk of many chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Apples may also promote weight loss and improve gut and brain health.
Even though more research is still needed to better understand how apples affect human health, you can’t go wrong with this tasty, versatile, and easily accessible fruit.