Apples are abundant, affordable, versatile and tasty -- four reasons to eat them. They're also extremely nutritious. They provide both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help to regulate weight, improve digestion and protect the heart. They also contain antioxidants, vitamins and phenolic phytochemicals that may protect you from chronic diseases and conditions, such as nerve disorders, asthma and some types of cancer.
If you're trying to lose weight, eating apples can be beneficial. A medium apple has only 95 calories and almost no fat, but it provides 4 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber makes you feel full, which can reduce the urge to snack. Apples are particularly beneficial because they contain both types of dietary fiber. Their insoluble fiber gives you roughage that speeds up the passage of food through your digestive system, while their soluble fiber helps to keep your cholesterol numbers in check, protecting you from heart problems.
Apples are rich in phenolic phytochemicals, plant-based chemicals that have antioxidant activity. The phenolics in apples may especially benefit your nervous system, according to researchers from Cornell University, who published a study in the "Journal of Food Science" in 2004. The study suggested that apple phenolic extract prevented nerve damage and protected nerve cell membranes in rats. The phenolics, they concluded, appear to protect against free radical damage.
Although apples aren't particularly rich in vitamins and minerals, they offer a medley of nutrients that supplement your diet. Each medium apple provides about 15 percent of your recommended daily intake for vitamin C, adding to its antioxidant power. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb the iron in other foods you eat, such as meat, fish, poultry, dairy products or leafy green vegetables. An apple also provides a small amount of vitamin B-6, which benefits your metabolism.
Eating apples may lower the risk of some types of cancer, particularly lung cancer. After reviewing an extensive body of studies, Cornell University researchers Jeanelle Boyer and Rui Hai Liu concluded that apples' high concentration of quercetin, a flavonoid with powerful antioxidant potential, may be the reason. The authors cite a 24-year Finnish study, involving 10,000 men and women, that found apples to be the only specific food that were inversely associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer, confirming prior research. The review was published in "Nutrition Journal" in May 2004.
Eating apples may help you breathe better, according to researchers who published a study in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2001. In their study, researchers surveyed nearly 1,500 people about their diet and lifestyle. Apples were among the types of fruit that showed a strong inverse relationship with asthma. Boyer and Liu concluded that apple consumption is clearly associated with a lower rate of asthma and better general pulmonary health.
- NutrientFacts.com: Apples, Raw, with Skin
- MedlinePlus: Fiber
- Journal of Food Science: Apple Phenolics Protect in Vitro Oxidative Stress-induced Neuronal Cell Death
- Nutrition Journal: Apple Phytochemicals and Their Health Benefits
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Food and Nutrient Intakes and Asthma Risk in Young Adults