Apples are a fruit of the apple tree that belong to the rose family (Rosaceae), which including apricots, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, pears, peaches, plums, quinces, and raspberries.
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 an inexpensive and 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, it also provides many positive health benefits. In fact, many studies have indicated the effects of apples in reducing the risk of cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, 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:
- Reduce the risk of cancers
Flavonoids like quercetin present in apple prevents oxygen molecules from damaging individual cells. This can prevent cell changes which can lead to the development of cancer cells.
According to a study involving 10,000 people, those who ate the most apples had a 50% lower risk of developing lung cancer. On other studies done on rats, apples also can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 17 percent and colon cancer by 43 percent. The reduction in the colon cancer risk is attributed to the pectin in apples (acting as fiber) which helps regulate bowel movements and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
- Reduce LDL cholesterol
Apples are a good source of pectin which help in reducing LDL cholesterol levels. Pectin binds cholesterol and fat before the body absorbs them. The Polyphenols found in apples are also shown to lower the cholesterol. By eating 2 apples a day, you can reduce your cholesterol levels by 10 percent.
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
Quercetin found in apples has been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease. A study of 40.000 women found that those who consumed apple had a 13-22 percent decreased risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke than those who didn’t.
- Reduce the risk of diabetes
Pectin found in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body which lowers the body’s need for insulin and assist in the management of diabetes. A 2005 study found that women who eat at least one apple a day is 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who do not eat apples.
- Aid in digestion
Apples are rich in fiber which known to helps digestion. Apple skin is considered roughage and a best remedy for constipation.
- Maintain a dental health
The fiber in apples cleanse the teeth, while the antiviral properties of apples keep bacteria and viruses away. Chewing apple fruit also stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, which helps in reducing tooth decay by reducing the amount of bacteria.
- Strengthen bones
Apple contains a flavanoid called phloridzin which known to able to protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and also increase the bone density. Apples also contain boron which helps strengthen bones.
- Boost immune system
The soluble fiber like pectin in apples may reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. According to study from the University of Illinois, soluble fiber can transform immune cells by increasing the production of an anti-inflammatory protein, interleukin 4.
In the study, lab mice were fed diets that were the same except for their fiber content – some received soluble fiber while others received insoluble fiber. After six weeks, the researchers gave the mice injections that made them sick. Those on the diets including soluble fiber were less likely to sick than those on diets with the insoluble fiber and the mice in the soluble fiber group recovered 50 percent more faster.
- Aid in weight loss
Apples are low in calories. An average size of apple only has 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 apples while dieting.
- Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
A study conducted at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell found that eating apple and drinking apple juice could improve brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to a study at Cornell University, quercetin in apples may protect brain cells from free radical damage that may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reduce the risk of Parkinson’s Disease
A recent study found that eating an apple a day supplies major phytochemicals, which play an important role in reducing the risk of Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive chronic disorder of the central nervous system characterized by the death of neurons in the brain.
- Promote Hair growth
A Japanese study on animals suggests that procyanidin B2 in apples may promote hair growth.
- Reduce Asthma
A study from UK reports that children born to women who eat apples during pregnancy are less likely to have symptoms of asthma than children whose mothers ate few apples. Another study from Australia reports that participants who ate apples and pears had the lowest risk of developing asthma.
- Protect against cataract and macular degeneration
Apples contain a considerable amount of both vitamin A and vitamin C, which help to prevent age-related macular degeneration and protect against cataract.
- Cure Anemia
Apples are also packed with iron which effective for the treatment of anemia, particularly iron deficiency anemia. Having two or three apples a day helps the body maintain its iron levels.
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’.