"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is an old Welsh proverb that most of us are familiar with, but what makes this fruit so special? What health benefits are associated with eating apples?
As one of the most cultivated and consumed fruits in the world, apples are continuously being praised as a "miracle food".
In fact, apples were ranked first in Medical News Today's featured article about the top 10 healthy foods.
Apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber.
This article provides a nutritional profile of the fruit and its possible health benefits. It also discusses the possible risks and precautions and some frequently asked questions.
Possible health benefits of apples
Apples contain almost no fat, sodium or cholesterol.
A collection of research studies suggests that apples may well be one of the most healthy foods for you to include in your daily diet. Let's take a look at the studies and the possible health benefits suggested by them:
1) Improving neurological health
A 2006 study published in the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine found that quercetin (one of the antioxidants found abundantly in apples) was one of two compounds that helped to reduce cellular death that is caused by oxidation and inflammation of neurons. 8
Another study presented at the same conference and published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease suggested that apple juice consumption may increase the production in the brain of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in improved memory among mice who have Alzheimer's-like symptoms. 8
It should be noted that both studies were funded by unrestricted grants provided by the U.S. Apple Association and Apple Products Research and Education Council.
2) Preventing dementia
A study published in the Journal of Food Science in 2008 suggested that eating apples may have benefit for your neurological health. The researchers found that including apples in your daily diet may protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
3) Reducing your risk of stroke
A study involving 9,208 men and women showed that those who ate the most apples over a 28-year period had the lowest risk for stroke. The researchers concluded that the intake of apples is related to a decreased risk of thrombotic stroke.4
4) Lowering levels of bad cholesterol
A group of researchers at The Florida State University stated that apples are a "miracle fruit". They found that older women who ate apples everyday had 23% less bad cholesterol (LDL) and 4% more good cholesterol (HDL) after just six months.
5) Reducing your risk of diabetes
Apples could also help lower your risk of diabetes. A study involving 187,382 people found that people who ate three servings per week of apples, grapes, raisins, blueberries or pears had a 7% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not.
6) Warding off breast cancer
There is growing evidence suggesting that an apple a day may help prevent breast cancer, according to a series of studies conducted by prominent Cornell researcher Rui Hai Liu.
Liu said her research adds to "the growing evidence that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, including apples, would provide consumers with more phenolics, which are proving to have important health benefits. I would encourage consumers to eat more and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily."
In a study published in the journal Food Chemistry in 2014, a team of researchers analyzed how the bioactive compounds of seven different varieties of apples - Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Red Delicious - affected the good gut bacteria of diet-induced obese mice.
The researchers found that, compared with all other apple varieties, Granny Smiths appeared to have the most beneficial effect on good gut bacteria. They suggest that their findings may lead to strategies that prevent obesity and its associated disorders.
Recent developments on the benefits of apples from MNT news
An apple a day is just as effective as statins in preventing vascular death. Researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK found that eating an apple everyday could be just as effective as statins in preventing vascular deaths among people over 50.
On the next page we look at the nutritional profile of apples and the possible risks and precautions associated with eating them. We also discuss some frequently asked questions about apples.