We have all grown up listening to “An apple a day keeps the doctor”. It comes as no surprise that apples are among the fruits that are consumed widely over the globe (1). This flavorful fruit with various colors also possesses many health benefits that are backed by science. In honor of National Apple Day, let’s talk about the nutritious health benefits of this popular fruit.
THE NUTRITION: Apples are a great source of vitamins, fiber, and minerals. All of these are essential requirements for human health. An assortment of antioxidants is also present in apples (2) playing a critical role in fighting free radicals (3).
A FRIEND OF YOUR HEART: A decreased risk to heart health is associated with eating apples (4). This could be due to the presence of soluble fibers in the apple that help decrease the level of cholesterol in the blood. Polyphenols such as a flavonoid named epicatechin present in apples can also be a reason to lower blood pressure (4).
A FOE OF DIABETES: The chances of developing type II diabetes reduces by eating apples. Data research found that the risk of developing type II diabetes decreases by 18% when apples are consumed. In fact, a 3% decrease in the risk was reported by the research when one serving of apples is consumed per week (5). These beneficial effects can be due to the presence of antioxidant agents, and polyphenols such as phloridzin and quercetin (6–8). Quercetin has anti-inflammatory effects and can decrease insulin resistance. The uptake of sugar in the intestine is believed to be reduced by phloridzin (7,8).
THE PROMOTER OF GUT HEALTH: Pectin is a fiber present in apples acting as a prebiotic. The prebiotic provides nutrition to good bacteria in the digestive system. Since the human gut is not able to digest dietary fiber, pectin promotes the growth of good microbiota in the gut by reaching the colon in intact form. The ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteriodetes is especially improved by pectin (4,9,10).
THE SAVIOR OF BRAIN: An animal study reported that the brain and nerves were protected from oxidative damage due to the antioxidant effect of quercetin, thereby reducing chances of nerve injury resulting in degenerative diseases of the brain like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (11–14).
THE COMPANION OF WEIGHT-LOSS: The water and fiber content of apples makes them filling. An important strategy for weight loss is the feeling of fullness as it curbs the appetite resulting in decreased energy intake (15). Eating a whole apple can increase the feeling of fullness to almost four hours because whole apples delay the time stomach takes to empty its content (16).
THE BOTTOM LINE
Everyone can surely find their favorite variety of apples ranging from Fuji, tangy greens, the Granny Smith, and Gala to Red Delicious. A culinary versatile fruit used to make delicious jams, pies, smoothies, muffins, and cookies is also a great snack and offers numerous health benefits. The solution to heart, brain, and gut health all lies in a single, versatile and tasty fruit, the apple.
- Feng S, Yi J, Li X, Wu X, Zhao Y, Ma Y, et al. Systematic Review of Phenolic Compounds in Apple Fruits: Compositions, Distribution, Absorption, Metabolism, and Processing Stability. J Agric Food Chem. 2021 Jan 13;69(1):7–27.
- Ko DY, Ku KM. Effect of Anti-Obesity and Antioxidant Activity through the Additional Consumption of Peel from ‘Fuji’ Pre-Washed Apple. Foods. 2022 Feb 9;11(4):497.
- Stone WL, Pham T, Mohiuddin SS. Biochemistry, Antioxidants. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 19]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541064/
- Koutsos A, Tuohy KM, Lovegrove JA. Apples and Cardiovascular Health—Is the Gut Microbiota a Core Consideration? Nutrients. 2015 May 26;7(6):3959–98.
- Guo XF, Yang B, Tang J, Jiang JJ, Li D. Apple and pear consumption and type 2 diabetes mellitus risk: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):927–34.
- Williamson G. The role of polyphenols in modern nutrition. Nutr Bull. 2017 Sep;42(3):226–35.
- Sato S, Mukai Y. Modulation of Chronic Inflammation by Quercetin: The Beneficial Effects on Obesity. J Inflamm Res. 2020 Aug 4;13:421–31.
- Niederberger KE, Tennant DR, Bellion P. Dietary intake of phloridzin from natural occurrence in foods. Br J Nutr. 2020 Apr 28;123(8):942–50.
- Wu W, Zhang L, Xia B, Tang S, Xie J, Zhang H. Modulation of Pectin on Mucosal Innate Immune Function in Pigs Mediated by Gut Microbiota. Microorganisms. 2020 Apr 8;8(4):535.
- Jiang T, Gao X, Wu C, Tian F, Lei Q, Bi J, et al. Apple-Derived Pectin Modulates Gut Microbiota, Improves Gut Barrier Function, and Attenuates Metabolic Endotoxemia in Rats with Diet-Induced Obesity. Nutrients [Internet]. 2016 Mar [cited 2022 Oct 19];8(3). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808856/
- Batiha GES, Beshbishy AM, Ikram M, Mulla ZS, El-Hack MEA, Taha AE, et al. The Pharmacological Activity, Biochemical Properties, and Pharmacokinetics of the Major Natural Polyphenolic Flavonoid: Quercetin. Foods. 2020 Mar 23;9(3):374.
- Sabogal-Guáqueta AM, Muñoz-Manco JI, Ramírez-Pineda JR, Lamprea-Rodriguez M, Osorio E, Cardona-Gómez GP. The flavonoid quercetin ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease pathology and protects cognitive and emotional function in aged triple transgenic Alzheimer’s disease model mice. Neuropharmacology. 2015 Jun;93:134–45.
- Haleagrahara N, Siew CJ, Ponnusamy K. Effect of quercetin and desferrioxamine on 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) induced neurotoxicity in striatum of rats. J Toxicol Sci. 2013 Feb;38(1):25–33.
- Zargar S, Siddiqi NJ, Ansar S, Alsulaimani MS, El Ansary AK. Therapeutic role of quercetin on oxidative damage induced by acrylamide in rat brain. Pharm Biol. 2016 Sep;54(9):1763–7.
- Tremblay A, Bellisle F. Nutrients, satiety, and control of energy intake. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab Physiol Appl Nutr Metab. 2015 Oct;40(10):971–9.
- Krishnasamy S, Lomer MCE, Marciani L, Hoad CL, Pritchard SE, Paul J, et al. Processing Apples to Puree or Juice Speeds Gastric Emptying and Reduces Postprandial Intestinal Volumes and Satiety in Healthy Adults. J Nutr. 2020 Nov 19;150(11):2890–9.