They say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but what does the science say? This simple, beloved fruit packs a multitude of health benefits, from maintaining your weight to keeping you regular.
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Tasty, low-calorie and packed full of fibre and nutrients, Granny Smith, Fuji, Macintosh or Royal Gala… whichever version love best, here are six reasons to have an apple today.
1. Brain Health
An apple a day may protect you from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Quercetin is the primary phytonutrient found in apples, which is thought to protect neurons and reduce cellular death caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. Research has shown that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease show signs of cell damage from oxidative stress. Quercetin is concentrated in higher amounts in the skin of apples, so wash, but don’t peel them, for the highest brain-protecting benefits.
2. Heart Health
Apples contain a water-soluble fibre known as pectin, which has been linked to a decreased risk of death from coronary disease. The cardiovascular benefits of apples are also associated with their antioxidant polyphenol content. These antioxidant compounds are able to decrease oxidation of cell membrane fats that can lead to clogged arteries. Eating an apple a day can also reduce both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
3. Regulate Blood Sugar
Apples can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by slowing the rate of carbohydrate digestion, and stimulating insulin production in the pancreas. The quercetin and other flavonoids in apples can inhibit enzymes that break down carbohydrates into simple sugars, and communicate to pancreatic beta cells to produce more insulin to regulate existing blood sugars. One study found that people who ate three apples a week had a 7 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. Reduced Risk Of Stroke
Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S., with a stroke occurring every 40 seconds. Strokes happen when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off, leading to cell death and damage. One comprehensive study of over 9,000 men and women associated a decreased risk of stroke to those who ate the most apples over a 28-year period.
5. Reduced Risk Of Asthma
Apples have been associated with a decreased risk of asthma in multiple studies. The unique asthma protecting properties of apples are thought to be a result of the unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action of the fruit. Apples have shown even better asthma reduction results than even a combination of other fruits and vegetables.
6. Reduced Risk Of Cancer
Eating one or more apples a day has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer. A study examined the association between eating fresh apples and cancer, and found apples were associated with a reduced risk of oral, esophagus, colorectal, larynx, breast, and prostate cancers. Apples have been found to be more protective than other fruits and vegetables when it comes to lowering lung cancer risk in particular.
7. Weight Maintenance
Eating an apple a day has been linked to weight management and healthy weight loss. This is because apples are full of fibre (about 5.5 grams per fruit) and are low in calories, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. Snack on a large apple with the skin on to curb your hunger until your next meal.
Organic Vs. Non-Organic
With all of the benefits that apples can offer, there is one thing to consider when shopping. Year after year, apples that are conventionally grown (non-organic) find themselves on the number two spot on the Environmental Working Group’s list of the “Dirty Dozen“; the list of produce most tainted by pesticides (strawberries come in at number one). Ninety-nine per cent of conventionally grown apples tested by the USDA were found to have pesticide residue, even after they were washed and even peeled. People who eat organic produce consume fewer pesticides. Look for apples that are certified organic, or purchase them from a local farmer who uses organic farming practices.
An apple a day really is a delicious way to keep the doctor away. Protecting your brain and heart, and reducing your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. Remember to buy organic when possible, wash well, and keep the skin on to get the most benefit from your apples.