Any fruit adds nutritional value to health-conscious diet, but apples might prove especially beneficial as they promote lifelong health by helping to significantly lower your risk of type-2 diabetes, reports the "Harvard Gazette." Apples provide several nutrients -- including carbohydrates, vitamins and phytonutrients -- that make them a healthful addition to your diet. Enjoy them as a convenient snack, or add them to recipes.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
Each medium-sized apple -- approximately 3 inches in diameter -- contains 95 calories. Roughly 87 percent of these calories come from carbohydrates, and the carbs found in apples help you metabolize fats, allow your nervous system to function and help your muscle tissue hold onto its protein stores. Each medium apple also contains 4.4 grams of dietary fiber, a nondigestable carbohydrate that fights chronic diseases -- including diverticular disease and type-2 diabetes -- and helps keep you regular. The fiber in one apple contributes 18 percent toward the recommended daily fiber intake for women and 12 percent for men.
Apples also offer nutritional value thanks to their vitamin C content. Your body can't make vitamin C, so you need to consume it in your diet. You use vitamin C to keep your tissues -- especially your bones and skin -- strong. Getting enough vitamin C in your diet also supports healthy brain function and fights cardiovascular disease. Consuming a medium apple boosts your vitamin C intake by 8.4 milligrams -- 9 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake for men and 11 percent for women.
Some of the nutritional value found in apples comes from their phytonutrients. Apples, particularly apple skins, come packed with polyphenols -- a type of antioxidant -- reports a study published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" in 2012. The study found that the polyphenols from apple skin help regulate skin cell growth, and the researchers suggest that they might help treat or prevent skin conditions. An additional study, published in the May 2013 issue of "Food Chemistry," notes that phytonutrients in apple skins reduce blood lipid oxidation -- a process that contributes to cardiovascular disease.
Consuming More Apples
In addition to enjoying apples on their own as a snack, you can use them in a variety of recipes. Bake chopped apples and then mash them to make homemade applesauce, or simply bake chopped apples together with pieces of butternut squash as a festive side dish suitable for cool weather. Make healthful baked apple desserts by stuffing cored apples with a mixture of rolled oats, walnuts and just a touch of butter and sugar. Alternatively, add apple chunks to your favorite salads, or add thinly sliced apple to sandwiches.
- Harvard Gazette: Skip the Juice, Go for Whole Fruit
- HealthAliciousNess: Apple, Raw, With Skin
- Iowa State University Extension: Carbohydrate
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin C
- Food Chemistry: Apple Peel Bioactive Rich Extracts Effectively Inhibit in Vitro Human LDL Cholesterol Oxidation
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Effect of Annurca Apple Polyphenols on Human HaCaT Keratinocytes Proliferation