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"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 "What Are The Top 10 Healthy Foods?"
Apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber.
Apples deserve to be called "nutritional powerhouses". They contain the following important nutrients:
|Energy - 52 kcal||Carbohydrates - 13.81 g|
|Fat - 0.17 g||Protein - 0.26 g|
|Water - 85.56 g||Sodium - 1 mg|
|Beta-carotene - 27 μg||Lutein and zeaxanthin - 29 μg|
|Thiamin (vitamin B1) - 0.017 mg||Vitamin A equiv - 3 μg|
|Riboflavin (vitamin B2) - 0.026 mg||Niacin (vitamin B3) - 0.091 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) - 0.061 mg||Vitamin B6 - 0.041 mg|
|Folate (vitamin B9) - 3 μg||Vitamin C - 4.6 mg|
|Vitamin E - 0.18 mg||Vitamin K - 2.2 μg|
|Calcium - 6 mg||Iron - 0.12 mg|
|Magnesium - 5 mg||Manganese - 0.035 mg|
|Phosphorus - 11 mg||Potassium - 107 mg|
A collection of research studies suggests that apples may well be one of the best foods people should add to their diet.
Apples can potentially:
Apples are good for neurological health. The fruit contains an antioxidant called "quercetin" which reduces cellular death caused by oxidation and inflammation of neurons, according to research conducted by G. Bureau and M. Martinoli at the University of Quebec.
Researchers at Cornell University conducted a study, published in the Journal of Food Science, which found evidence to suggest that apples may help "protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity", which could reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
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 "the results suggest that the intake of apples is related to a decreased risk of thrombotic stroke."4
A group of researchers at The Florida State University stated that apples really 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.
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.
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."
No serious side effects are linked to apple consumption.
Apple seeds contain contain cyanide, a powerful poison. Eating too many apple seeds can potentially be fatal. Apple seeds should not be consumed.
In addition, because apples are fairly acidic, they could be up to four times more damaging to teeth than carbonated drinks, according to a study led by Professor David Bartlett at the King's Dental Institute.5
Professor Bartlett said that "snacking on acidic foods throughout the day is the most damaging, whilst eating them at meal times is much safer. It's not what you eat it's how you eat it - an apple a day is good, but taking all day to eat the apple can damage teeth."
Should I eat the apple peel? - Most of the fiber and antioxidants are in the peel, says Dianne Hyson, Ph.D., R.D.6, a research dietitian at UC Davis in the Department of Internal Medicine.
What about pesticides on the peel? - Dr. Hyson says "Despite public misperceptions, laboratories have consistently found very low levels - if any - of pesticide residues on the skin of apples."
I have type 2 diabetes, can I eat apples? - According to the American Diabetes Association7, "Apples are a nutritious food and you can still eat them even if you have diabetes." The Association reminds people to eat the peel and advises on buying small apples (2.5 inches in diameter).
Written by Joseph Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
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Nordqvist, Joseph. "What are the health benefits of apples?." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 12 Oct. 2013. Web.
12 Dec. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267290>
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