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An Apple A Day: All The Nutritional Benefits of Apples
They say one a day will keep the doctor away – and with good reason.
Apples are venerable nutrient bombs, packed with enough vitamins to cover nearly the whole alphabet and a number of other healthy, helpful compounds.
But what is it in particular about apples that make them so good for us? Well, we’re glad you asked.
What’s It Got?
Apples aren’t just one of the world’s most popular fruits, they’re one of its healthiest.
Every time you take a crisp, juicy bite of one, you’re rewarding your body with:
The “C” word may be bad news for some, but when it comes to apples, the type of carbs available are about as good as it gets, consisting mostly of simple sugars like fructose, sucrose and glucose.
That means that, even though apples are pretty carb-y, they’re pretty low on the glycemic index, as these sugars will release on a slower, steadier pace into your bloodstream.
After their carb count, apples are mostly consistent of fiber – which is great news for pretty much everyone, as that’s the stuff that really gets us moving. (If you know what we mean…)
Also noteworthy: The large percentage of apple-based fiber that comes from a compound called pectin. That’s because pectin is a soluble fiber, meaning it draws more water into our gut, which makes the digestive process that much easier on us.
You’ve most likely heard of this one before.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that acts in our bodies as an antioxidant, protecting our cells from damage that could be caused by nefarious chemicals and compounds called free radicals.
This action translates to the laundry-list of health benefits that have been associated with the antioxidant over the years, including increased heart health and a reduced risk for several chronic diseases.
Along with vitamin C, apples are relatively loaded with potassium. And that’s pretty awesome, since our bodies are incapable of manufacturing this mineral—but need it to help with so many essential functions.
Acting as an electrolyte in the body, potassium helps maintain all the electrical wiring inside of us known as nerves, which are responsible for moving our muscles, including our hearts.
This fruity nutrient works inside us as an anti-inflammatory agent and has been linked to everything from antiviral properties to antidepressant effects.
Another antioxidant, this nutritional wonder is also one of the main ingredients in green tea. But no matter where you get it from, it helps with brain and muscle function.
And another compound apples share with some of our favorite drinkable stimulants, chlorogenic acid is also prominent in coffee. It’s been associated with weight loss and helping keep blood sugar levels low.
What Do They Do?
So what do all of those compounds and chemicals look like in action?
The huge number of health benefits apples are typically touted for!
Just a few of these potential perks include:
Better Heart Health
Remember all that soluble fiber apples have to offer? This is one of their biggest payoffs.
The substances are exceptional at keeping down blood pressure, which is better for our hearts overall, especially over long periods of time.
Apples are also home to a class of antioxidants called polyphenols, which only work to bolster all that blood pressure-lowering work.
All told, the combination has been found in studies to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Better Bone Health
Remember all that vitamin C apples contain? It comes back into play here, creating the foundation for a substance in our bodies called collagen, which is a huge supporter of bone (and joint!) growth and health.
Apples have also been found to improve bone density and, in one study, were shown to help fight the loss of calcium – another essential ingredient in bone health.
Protection From Diabetes
Along with lower blood pressure, apples are ace at helping us maintain lower blood sugar—a key component of keeping free from type 2 diabetes.
Polyphenols also come back into play here, with some studies suggesting that the antioxidants play a role in preventing damage to the types of tissues in our pancreas that produce insulin.
The magic of soluble fiber strikes again!
Chalk that up to another win for pectin, which not only helps aid digestion but actually acts as a prebiotic in our bodies. That means it skips out on getting absorbed in our stomach and instead heads straight to our guts, where it feeds the good bacteria in our small intestines, helping them stay health and keep doing their thing.
Weight Loss Aids
This is essentially the work of all that fiber an apple contains.
The substance lets us feel fuller off of less, since our bodies have to work harder to break it down. It keeps things moving, which prevents us from bulking up too much. And, combined with the magic of chlorogenic acid, it helps us burn through extra fat storage.
Possible Protection Against Cancer
This one is still being studied, but apples have been linked to the potential for staving off cancer in several ways.
Their weight loss potential is one of them, as being obese is a known cancer risk factor.
But apples also pack a number of antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties that could be helpful in stopping or slowing the spread of the disease.
What Does That Mean?
In short, it means that apples are pretty darn good for you!
For a low amount of calories, you’ll get any number of health benefits from this snack. Though, it should be noted that many of these beneficial compounds reside primarily in an apple’s skin, so if you tend to peel the fruit, you might want to rethink that policy. (Just make sure to rinse it under water before digging in!)
Of course, it’s important to keep a broader healthy diet in mind. Apples do a lot of good, but nothing in this world is truly a cure-all.
Still, we’re happy to report here that this treat is delicious in every way. And the best part? It’s totally okay to actually eat one every day!