Apples are a popular fruit, containing antioxidants, vitamins, dietary fiber, and a range of other nutrients. Due to their varied nutrient content, they may help prevent several health conditions.
Apples come in a variety of shapes, colors, and flavors and provide a range of nutrients that can benefit many different aspects of a person’s health.
In this article, learn more about the nutritional content of apples and how they may benefit a person’s health.
Free radicals are reactive molecules that can build up as a result of natural processes and environmental pressures. If too many free radicals accumulate in the body, they can cause oxidative stress, and this can lead to cell damage. This damage can contribute to a range of conditions, including cancer and diabetes.
- chlorogenic acid
The sections below look at previous research into apples’ potential health benefits.
Neurological health and dementia
A 2019 laboratory study concluded that quercetin has a neuroprotective effect, possibly because it prevents the creation of reactive species. It appears to help neurons survive and continue to function. It may therefore help prevent age-related neuron loss.
It is worth noting that most studies of this type used high doses of quercetin that are unlikely to be present in normal dietary sources. In addition, scientists need to do more studies in humans before they can confirm that quercetin improves neurological health in people.
The authors found that those who ate the most apples had a lower risk of thrombotic stroke.
Apples contain many nutrients that may lower the risk of stroke. One 2017 review found, for example, that people who consume the most fiber appear to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
One 2013 study found that eating raw apples lowered levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol among healthy people, but that drinking clear apple juice did not have the same impact. The authors therefore conclude that it is the fiber in apples that helps reduce cholesterol.
- 13–20% of a person’s daily fiber needs
- 9–11% of a person’s daily vitamin C needs
- 4% of a person’s daily potassium needs
Fiber appears to help manage blood pressure, which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that, alongside other antioxidants, may play a role in protecting some aspects of heart health. Vitamin C may also boost the immune system and help defend the body from infections and diseases.
In 2013, a population study found that people who replaced three servings per week of fruit juice with the same amount of whole fruit, including apples, had a 7% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who did not eat fruit.
Also, those who consume the most fiber have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, suggested one 2011 review. People who already have diabetes and follow a high fiber diet may also have lower blood sugar levels.
The American Diabetes Association recommend eating fresh fruit, including apples, to satisfy a sweet tooth and provide nutrition. However, they remind people to account for the carbohydrate content in the fruit.
A medium apple contains 25.1 g of carbohydrate, of which 18.9 g is sugar. However, it also provides fiber and other nutrients, which means that, as a sweet snack, it has additional health benefits.
Consuming antioxidant-rich foods may help prevent the oxidative stress that causes cell damage and may lead to the development of certain cancers. Apples are a good source of antioxidants.
According to a 2019 rodent study, apples contain bioactive compounds that may help promote healthful gut bacteria, which may help optimize the health of people with obesity.
The authors looked at how eating apples might affect the gut microbiota of rats. The changes they observed suggested that apple consumption may help humans with obesity.
Fiber can also help a person feel full for longer, making them less likely to overeat.
The table below shows the amount of each nutrient in a medium sized raw apple weighing around 182 g.
It also shows how much an adult needs of each nutrient, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Needs vary according to the individual’s age and sex.
|Nutrient||Amount in 1 apple||Daily adult requirement|
|Carbohydrate (g)||25.1, including 18.9 g of sugar||130|
|Calcium (milligrams [mg])||10.9||1,000–1,300|
|Vitamin C (mg)||8.37||75–90|
|Folate (micrograms [mcg])||5.46||400|
|Beta-carotene (mcg)||49.1||No data|
|Lutein and zeaxanthin (mcg)||52.8||No data|
|Vitamin K (mcg)||4||90–120|
Applies also provide iron, vitamin A, some B vitamins, and vitamin E.
How can other fruits benefit a person’s health? Find out here.
There are many varieties of apples, as well as several different ways of consuming them.
People can eat them raw, as applesauce, chopped in salads, baked whole, in pies, pastries, and cakes, in curries and chutneys, dried in slices, added to smoothies, and as juice.
Some popular apple varieties include:
McIntosh: A juicy, red apple with tender, white flesh and a tangy flavor.
Red delicious: A crisp, juicy red apple.
Fuji: Yellow and red in color, it has firm, sweet flesh.
Granny Smith: A green apple with crisp, greenish flesh and a sharp flavor.
Golden delicious: A yellow apple with a mild, sweet flavor.
Preferences vary, but many people prefer tart, tangy apples for making applesauce or apple pie. To avoid adding sugar, try pairing tart apples with sweet ones in cooking or adding spices to counter the sharpness.
Here are some recipes that include apples:
Eating an apple is unlikely to trigger serious side effects in most people, but some people may need to take care.
The sections below list some potential risks of eating apples.
Apple seeds contain cyanide. Swallowing whole seeds is unlikely to cause harm, but chewing and swallowing a large number of apple seeds could be dangerous. Learn more here.
Some people may have an allergic reaction after eating apples. Anyone who experiences hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention.
In the past, there was a widespread belief that eating an apple could help remove plaque from the teeth. However, studies have not found strong evidence of this. Brushing the teeth regularly is more likely to have this effect.
In addition, the acidic content of apples may contribute to a buildup of plaque. People should therefore rinse their mouth with water or brush their teeth after eating an apple.
Young children and older adults who have difficulty swallowing may be at risk of choking on raw apple pieces. Consuming unsweetened applesauce or other forms of cooked apple may be a better option.
Should I eat the peel of an apple?
Yes! The peels of apples contain beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Whenever possible, people should consume the edible peels of fruits including apples, pears, and peaches to take full advantage of all of the nutrients the whole fruit offers. Peeling apples will lower the fiber and overall nutrient content of the fruit.
In fact, research has shown that although both the flesh and the peel are highly nutritious, the peel contains certain flavonoid antioxidants that the flesh does not.
Additionally, one study demonstrated that the antioxidant activity and cancer-fighting properties were significantly higher in apple peel than in the flesh, regardless of the type of apple.
So, to get the most out of an apple, eat the peel. However, be sure to properly wash the apple before consuming it to reduce the chances of ingesting contaminants such as pesticides.
Jillian Kubala, MS, RD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.