Their crisp, delicious taste and versatility have made apples one of the most popular fruit choices. Apples can be added to just about any meal, and they are easy to grab on-the-go, making them a popular snack. Apples are also a popular dessert fruit, offering enough sweetness to satisfy a sweet-tooth craving.
Apples have long been thought to provide a plethora of health benefits. More and more studies prove this to be true with apples providing essential vitamins and minerals and even anti-cancer phytochemicals. Apples offer health benefits in many forms, including whole, as apple juice, and apple cider vinegar.
Health Benefits of Apples
Apples have been associated with good health for centuries. As the saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” According to The Washington Post, this phrase has evolved over time from similar phrases proclaiming the health benefits of apples as early as the 1860s. Studies have shown that there is, in fact, more to this phrase than just a fun rhyme that encourages healthy eating.
A study published by Nutrition Journal revealed the following health benefits of apples:
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- Lowered cholesterol
- Pulmonary health, reduced risk of asthma
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Weight loss and weight management
So what is it that makes apples so healthy and beneficial? There are a few key ingredients that make apples such a standout fruit.
- Phytochemicals: chemicals from plants that boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and eliminate dangerous, cancer-causing cells.
- Antioxidants: rid the body of dangerous cells that cause damage such as aging and diseases like cancer.
- Fiber: supports digestive health and leaves a feeling of fullness.
- Vitamin C: supports immune health.
- Potassium: regulates fluids and blood pressure and helps maintain healthy bones and muscles.
Apples and Cancer
The American Institute for Cancer Research cites apples as a key cancer-fighting food, along with several other fruits and vegetables. The cancer-fighting properties of apples come mainly from their phytochemicals. Apples contain three key phytochemicals that make them such a potent anti-cancer fruit: quercetin, flavonoids, and triterpenoids.
Quercetin is a flavonoid that gives apples their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Keeping inflammation at bay is key when it comes to preventing cancer, as chronic inflammation has been linked to tumor growth. Antioxidants play a critical role in cancer prevention as they neutralize and eliminate free radicals from the body. Free radicals are dangerous cells that can cause damage to DNA and protein and may lead to cancer development and growth.
In addition to quercetin, apples contain other flavonoids such as epicatechin and anthocyanins. Flavonoids are phytochemicals that studies have shown lower the risk of developing cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that flavonoids help reduce the risk of cancer by inhibiting inflammation and tumor growth and boosting the body’s immune response.
Triterpenoids are phytochemicals that also contribute to the anti-cancer effects of apples. According to a study published in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, triterpenoids have exhibited anti-inflammatory effects as well as anti-proliferative effects. By preventing inflammation and the growth of dangerous cells, triterpenoids prevent conditions that may lead to cancer development and growth.
Apple Juice Nutrition
Apple juice is a staple of many households with young children. But children are not the only ones who may benefit from drinking apple juice. Many of the same health benefits of eating apples can also be gained from drinking apple juice, including lung health such as reduced childhood wheezing, anti-cancer effects, enhanced brain activity, and reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
When purchasing apple juice, be sure to check the nutrition label and ingredients list for any added sugars. It’s also best to purchase apple juice that specifies “100 % juice” on the bottle to ensure an adequate amount of nutrition is included in each serving.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is produced when apple juice is fermented. Fermented means yeast is added to turn the natural sugars from the fruit into alcohol. Then the alcohol is turned into acetic acid by bacteria. Like regular vinegar, apple cider vinegar has a strong smell and sour or bitter taste. Apple cider vinegar carries many of the same health benefits as apples do, such as heart health and weight loss. Vinegar includes polyphenols, phytochemicals that provide an anti-cancer effect by acting as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and apple cider vinegar is no different.
It is best to use organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother.” When apple cider vinegar contains “the mother,” it means the vinegar is unfiltered and unpasteurized with good, beneficial bacteria and proteins still remaining. Organic apple cider vinegar can be purchased at most grocery stores as well as online.
Due to its strong, unpleasant taste and odor, apple cider vinegar is usually consumed in very small amounts. It is also very potent, usually requiring no more than about a tablespoon at a time. There are many home remedies for various ailments that call for apple cider vinegar, though studies have not yet confirmed that it is effective for the following conditions:
- Wart removal
- Digestive disorders such as IBS