15 Health Benefits of Apples (+5 Bonus Apple Recipes) »


What if there is a single food that contained an entire army of health benefits? And, what if that food is readily available at any supermarket or grocery store for very reasonable prices? Finally…what if this food holds the key to radically changing your life for the better? The answer may surprise you.

We have all heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Attribute to a Welsh proverb, this old saying has a great deal more truth to it than might meet the eye. Apples are among the most widely cultivated and consumed fruits in the world and many experts, healthcare providers and laypeople who know the many benefits first-hand consider them a “miracle food.”

In  June 2017, Medical News Today listed this fruit as one of the top 15 foods on the Healthiest Foods List in surveys across the United States and Europe. [1] The humble apple is available in more than 2000 varieties across the United States. Worldwide, farms cultivate more than 7,500 varieties.. This is a staggering number for such a common fruit. Surprisingly, only the crabapple tree is native to North America. The other varieties are all imported. [2]

Not All Apples Are Created Equal

Different apple species contain varying levels of nutritive benefits. Some of the most common are listed below.

Pink Lady

Foods rich in flavonoids (plant pigments) have the potential to improve heart health. [3] The Pink Lady ranks at the top of the charts in the flavonoid category. According to Professor Jonathan Hodgson: “Flavonoid-rich [FRUIT] improve blood vessel relaxation and enhance nitric oxide status.” The ability for blood vessels to relax may play an important part in preventing high blood pressure and heart disease.

 

Red Delicious

The Red Delicious is perhaps one of the most popular varieties in the United States with its luscious flesh and deep red skin. According to a publication by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the phenolic compounds found in the Red Delicious and Northern Spy have the potential to provide additional antioxidant benefits to the consumer. The apple peels contain the highest levels of phenolic compounds, which is another very good reason to eat the entire apple rather than skinning them first.

 

Granny Smith

The Granny Smith is known for its ability to help with losing weight. An imbalance of good bacteria in your colon can cause inflammation or diabetes in certain susceptible people. Granny Smiths contain specific compounds that have been scientifically proven to bring the bacterial colonization in the colon back into a healthy balance. [4]

 

Health Benefits of Apples that Might Surprise You

Apples are a veritable powerhouse of nutrition and are packed with a wide array of health benefiting substances. One of the top health benefits of the fruit is their extremely high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants are either natural or synthetic substances that have the potential to prevent or delay cell damage from free radicals. Antioxidants are found in very high levels in all fruits and vegetables.

The importance of consuming a balanced antioxidant profile cannot be overstressed as an imbalanced consumption can lead to its own health risks. Obtaining your antioxidants from natural sources such as fruits and dark green leafy vegetables is the safest way to ensure a balanced nutrient intake.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that the body produces in response to environmental or physical stressors. Antioxidants are also referred to as free radical scavengers. Antioxidants provide a natural defense against free radical damage, also known as oxidative stress. Reasons for oxidative stress include:

 

  • Excessive exercise
  • Inflammation and injury
  • Smoking
  • Environmental pollution
  • Excessive consumption of refined foods, trans fats, and artificial ingredients
  • Radiation
  • Chemical exposure (e.g. drugs, pesticides, solvents)

The health benefits of this fruit are varied and possibly too numerous to count as science continues to find out more and more information. However, here are 15 surprising health benefits of eating this fruit that will have you eating one or more of them a day.

15 Health Benefits of Apples

apple

#1: Natural Tooth Cleaner

While they will not replace good brushing and flossing habits, consuming whole [FRUIT] with the skin stimulates saliva production in your mouth. This helps lower the bacteria count in your mouth that can lead to tooth decay. [5]

 

#2: Protect Against Neurodegenerative Disorders

According to recent studies [6], people who consume high-fiber foods are less likely to suffer from Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s. these conditions are caused by a breakdown of the dopamine-producing cells of the brain caused by oxidation and inflammation of neurons. Another study revealed that apple juice has the potential to increase production of acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter that is responsible for memory.

 

#3: Help Prevent Cancer

The consumption of flavonoid-rich foods can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer by up to 23 percent. Apple peels contain a specific compound known as triterpenoids that have potent activity against abnormal cell growth in the liver, colon, and breast. Extracts from the whole fruit were observed to have reduced the size and number of mammary tumors in rats. According to the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, consuming high levels of fiber can help reduce the risk of developing cancer. [7]

#4: Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

Women who consume at least one apple a day are nearly 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The high fiber content in [FRUIT] consumed with the peel helps regulate blood sugar swings in susceptible persons. Apple cider vinegar [8] has also been used to reduce the fluctuation of blood sugar levels in the bloodstream, which helps keep blood sugar from dipping too low. The polyphenols present in the fruit helps lower glucose absorption in the digestive tract and stimulates the pancreas to release insulin. These polyphenols also help stimulate insulin receptors on the body’s cells to speed up the elimination of excess sugar from the bloodstream.

 

#5: Gallstone Prevention

Gallstones are formed by presences of digestive fluid deposits in your gallbladder, a small organ located just below your liver. The gallbladder is responsible for releasing bile into your small intestine to help with digestion of fats and proteins. Gallstones can be as small as a grain of salt as small or as large as a small apple. [9] Gallstone formation can occur from:

 

Excess cholesterol.

  • Excess cholesterol. When the liver excretes more cholesterol than the bile can dissolve, it can crystalize and eventually form into stones.

Excess bilirubin

  • Excess bilirubin. Bilirubin is produced by the liver in order break down old red blood cells. When too much bilirubin is produced as a result of liver disease, infection or blood disorders, gallstones can form.

Improper gallbladder function

  • Improper gallbladder function. When the gallbladder fails to empty properly, the bile present can become concentrated, leading to the formation of gallstones.

 

The high fiber content of fruits eaten with skins on can help prevent the formation of gallstones by keeping cholesterol levels balanced and to maintain a healthy weight.

 

#6: Improve Bowel Movements

Both constipation and diarrhea can be treated by consuming apples on a regular basis. The fiber in the fruit helps pull water out of your colon to move things along and to absorb water when too much is present.

 

#7: Soothe Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition characterized by constipation, diarrhea, bloating and pain. Treatment plans include eliminating dairy and fats and eating foods high in fiber. [10]

 

#8: Liver Detox

Your liver is the main defense your body uses to remove harmful substances and other toxins from your bloodstream. When your liver becomes clogged or backed up, you can suffer from a wide variety of symptoms including headaches, flu-like symptoms, aches and pains, constipation/diarrhea, skin eruptions, and stomach problems. One of the easiest and safest ways to detox your liver is to eat one to two servings of fruits a day.

 

#9: Immune Booster

Apples with red skins contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Quercetin can help boost your immune system and reduce allergies by calming down white blood cell activity triggered by environmental or physical stress. Other immune-boosting benefits include asthma treatment. [11]

 

#10: Prebiotic Benefits

This fruit contains pectin, which is prebiotic. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in the body, thereby helping to maintain a healthy gut flora balance in the large intestine. The prebiotic effect help improves health by eliminating harmful toxins and maximizing the amount of nutrition your body can absorb.

 

#11: May Help Treat Anemia

This fruit has been found to be useful in treating anemia for their high iron content. Iron helps to increase the number of red blood cells in the body and ensures proper oxygenation of your body’s organs.

 

#12: Can Improve Vision

Consuming the fruit can help prevent specific conditions related to eye health including macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. They help strengthen the eyes, improve eyesight and treat night blindness with their high flavonoid levels and antioxidant phytonutrient levels that combat free radical damage.

 

#13: Skin Care

Skin damage from free radicals shows up as symptoms as premature aging, wrinkles, age spots and other conditions. The consumption of apples helps increase blood circulation which keeps the skin looking healthy and toned by stimulating new cell production and keeping acne at bay. Using a skin care product made from apple and honey or apple and milk can increase the healthy appearance of the skin for people of all ages.

 

#14: Bone and Joint Health

Specific compounds found in apples such as myricetin and kaempferol reduce specific inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and gout. Also, people suffering from rheumatism may find them to help aid the healing process.

 

#15: Protect Against Stroke and Heart Disease

Regular apple consumption has been shown to help reduce the risk of thrombotic strokes in men and women as a result of the high quercetin levels found in the fruit. The antioxidative properties found in them helps reduce lipid oxidation [12] that can lead to free radical damage. It can also neutralize blood vessel fat and prevent it from causing a dangerous buildup of pressure. The polyphenol epicatechin also helps in regulating blood pressure.

healthy snack apples

5 Apple Recipes that Will Leave You Begging for More

Now that you’ve had your curiosity piqued about all the health benefits of this delicious treat, here are some recipes that will get you going on your next level of health success.

We sourced the best apple recipes from around the internet (and included attribution links to the original recipes).

home-baked apple pie

Reese’s Apple Salad

Enjoy this salad as either part of a meal or for a quick and easy dessert.

Ingredients

  • Diced apple of your choice
  • Whipped topping
  • Instant vanilla pudding
  • Milk
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Caramel drizzle

Combine pudding and milk. Fold in whipped topping. Dice the apples and the peanut butter cups. Fold the fruit gently into the whipped topping/vanilla pudding. Set aside a small handful of the peanut butter cups for a garnish and fold the rest of them into the salad. Drizzle caramel topping over it and garnish with apple slices and peanut butter bits. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the ingredients to gel.

 

Crockpot Applesauce

Quick and easy to make, crockpot applesauce is a great way to use up all those apples you picked at your local farm.

Ingredients

  • 16 apples, preferably a variety of the sweeter ones like Sun Crisp, Gala, Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon

To make it simple, you can “roughly” peel the apple by making a quick pass with the peeler and leaving whatever bits of skin are left. Once you’ve peeled and diced your apples, add them to your crockpot with the brown sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the cinnamon sticks and set on high.

In six hours or so, the fruit will be soft and easy to process with an immersion blender (for a super smooth sauce) or with a pastry blender, berry masher or fork. Crockpot applesauce is an excellent holiday menu item. You can even make it ahead of time and freeze it to make it even easier come that big day.

 

Overnight Apple Pie Baked French Toast

As a breakfast casserole that is thrown together the night before, all you will need to do when you get up is stick it in the oven to bake. A combination of apple pie and day-old bread, the result is a stunning dish that is apple pie with a twist.

Ingredients

  • One loaf French bread or sourdough bread
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups of milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cups brown sugar
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. apple pie spice
  • 1 21-ounce can apple pie filling

Streusel topping:

  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. apple pie spice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup butter, cold

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cut the bread into one-inch cubes and layer into baking dish. Whisk the eggs and add the milk, ¾ cup brown sugar, pie spice, vanilla and pie filling. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the bread and stir gently. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. If you want to cook it sooner than that, allow it to sit for at least an hour before moving to the next step.

Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter, flour, ½ cup brown sugar, cinnamon, 1 tsp. apple pie spice and salt together until you have coarse crumbs. Store the streusel in the refrigerator for one hour or overnight in an airtight container.

To bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the French toast. Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes. Longer baking times will result in a crispier crust. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream and maple syrup.

 

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

Caramel and apples meet in this delectable recipe that will be a treat to your eyes as well as your taste buds.

Frosting:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 12 T. butter, room temp
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Cupcakes:

  • 1.25 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, room temp
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 6 T. buttermilk
  • 1 ½ cup shredded apple, peeled

Instructions: Frosting

Stir sugar and water in a small bowl and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Do Not Stir. Allow boiling for five to six minutes or until it turns a light caramel color. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the cream while stirring. Add the vanilla. Allow cooling to room temperature while you make the cupcakes.

Instructions: Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and ginger together. Using a standing mixer, beat sugar and butter together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour mixture slowly until just combined. Add the buttermilk and mix well. Fold in the shredded apple.

Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ full and bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in the tin before removing them to a rack. Cool completely before adding the frosting.

 

Giant Skillet Grilled Cheese with Ham and Apple

Using two different chesses, ham and Granny apples, this supersized sandwich will hit that sweet spot every time. Perfect for multiple lunches.

Ingredients:

  • 1 round loaf of crusty bread (boule)
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese
  • Mustard of your choice (optional)
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced Monterey Jack cheese
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced ham
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple
  • 1 T. vegetable or olive oil
  • 4 T. unsalted butter, softened, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the loaf in half horizontally. Trim the crusts from the top and bottom of the loaf to make two large slices around 1 ½ inch thick. If you are using mustard, spread it to taste on one slice of bread along with an even layer of Swiss cheese, reserving two slices. Sandwich the ham between the Swiss cheese and two additional slices of Swiss cheese and Monterey Jack. Core the apple and cut into very thin slices. Layer them on the sandwich, followed by the final slices of Monterey Jack cheese.

If desired, spread the remaining bread slice with mustard and close the sandwich with the bread mustard side down. Heat the oil in a heavy, oven-safe 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Spread two tablespoons of the butter on the top of the sandwich and place it in the skillet butter side down. Spread the remaining two tablespoons on top. Cook for three to four minutes until the bread is golden brown and toasty. Flip and cook for an additional two to three minutes more. If the cheese has not melted fully at this point, pop it in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serves four.

tree filled with fruit

Final Thoughts About Consuming Apples

If at all possible, consume organic apples in apple recipes over conventional. Organic apples are not treated with pesticides or harmful fertilizers that can impact the nutritional profile and health benefits of the fruit. Farm-to-table apples are the best of all, as they are extremely fresh and contain more nutrition than fruits stored for months in a warehouse. They will also create more flavorful apple recipes.

The best time to consume this treat is in the fall and early winter.You may purchase them in supermarkets in the United States all year. However, fall is the harvest time. In order to prevent their spoiling, the fruits are treated with 1-methylcyclopropene, a chemical that preserves the texture and freshness.. [13] However, once they are out of season, they lose a good portion of their nutritive value, with certain compounds being completely gone after one year of storage. [14]

Apples have a place on every table in every home. Embrace America’s favorite fruit to spice up your life and jumpstart your health.

REFERENCES

[1] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245259.php

[2] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245259.php

[3] http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201110053999/research/eat-apples-healthy-heart

[4] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814614005251

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6051571/

[6] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041116215006.htm

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183591/

[8] http://idosi.org/wjz/wjz6%281%2911/2.pdf

[9] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gallstones/symptoms-causes/syc-20354214

[10] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20360064

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442131/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707699/

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442131/

[13] https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2007/oct/apples

[14] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/bk-2007-0956.ch020



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