You're likely to have heard the saying: 'an apple a day, keeps the doctor away' - and while this expression may hold true, have you ever thought to consider how exactly apples are beneficial for your health?
In 2004, USDA scientists decided to find out, investigating over 100 foods to measure their antioxidant concentration per serving. In the study, two types of apples (Red Delicious and Granny Smith) ranked 12th and 13th respectively.
Due to the antioxidants (disease-fighting compounds) found in apples, scientists believe that these compounds help prevent and repair oxidation damage that happens during normal cell activity. They also found that apples are packed with a fiber called pectin - a soluble, fermentable and viscous fiber (a combination that provides the body with a wealth of health benefits). In fact, a medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fiber.
Here are 10 health benefits of apples, and how they can help fend off disease and promote weight loss.
1. They promote healthier teeth and gums
While apples should not replace your toothbrush, biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering levels of bacteria. Consequently, apples also boost gum health.
2. Apples fight Alzheimer's
A study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer's at bay. Apples have also been shown to fight the effects of aging on the brain. In the study, mice that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.
But how is this possible? It was discovered that apples contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cells from degeneration. However, it is recommended that in order to gain maximum, disease-fighting compounds, apples should be consumed with their skin on.
3. They protect against Parkinson's
According to research, people who stock up on fruits and other high-fiber foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson's. It is essentially a disease that is caused by a breakdown of the brain cells responsible for producing a substance known as dopamine. It is, however, unclear as to why apples seem to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Scientists believe that it is due to their pectin/fiber content.
4. Apples reduce your risk of diabetes
This is perhaps one of the most recognized benefits of apples. In one study, they found that women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type II diabetes than those who didn't. It was discovered that apples are loaded with soluble fiber, which slows the digestion of food and the entry of glucose into the bloodstream.
5. They help fight cholesterol
The fiber pectin found in apples also helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Scientific evidence has also found that the fiber in apples binds with unhealthy fats present in the intestines, consequently leading to the efficient elimination of these harmful fats.
6. Apples promote a healthy heart
As previously mentioned, high soluble fiber intake slows the build-up of cholesterol-rich plaque in the arteries (which, if left untreated, reduces blood flow to the heart, leading to coronary artery disease). The skin found on apples contains a phenolic compound which also prevents cholesterol from solidifying in your artery walls. Its skin is also rich in flavonoids and antioxidants which helps prevent heart disease.
7. They prevent gallstones
Apples effectively help prevent the formation of gallstones, which are essentially solid chunks of cholesterol that form due to too much cholesterol in the bile. The remedy for gallstones is a diet high in fiber - making apples a perfect cure!
8. Apples alleviate diarrhea and constipation
Fiber found in apples helps alleviate symptoms related to diarrhea or constipation. Fiber works by either pulling water out of your colon to keep things moving when you are feeling constipated, or it absorbs excess water from your stool, slowing your bowels down. The high fiber content found in apples also helps neutralize Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
9. They contribute to weight loss
There are a number of health problems that arise as a result of being overweight - from heart disease, to strokes, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, as well as sleep apnea, to mention but a few. To help manage a weight issue, a diet rich in fiber is one of the best remedies. It fills you up, and foods rich in fiber tend to be low on calories too.
Apples are packed with fiber and water, making your stomach want less food. Proving this, a study conducted out of Washington State and Brazil has shown that people who eat at least three apples or pears a day lose weight. So, next time you find yourself reaching for a chocolate, eat an apple first, you likely won't feel like a chocolate after.
10. Apples help detoxify the liver
One of the jobs of the liver is to remove toxins from the body. Detoxifying is one of the best ways to jump start your liver, which may be done by eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants. Apples, in this regard, are an ideal fruit to include in your daily routine.