Apples are popular not just because of their simple, delicate flavors. While apples are delicious, and can span from very sweet to incredibly tart, they are also incredibly healthy.
Apples are loaded with healthy phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Phytonutrients are plant-based compounds that can only be obtained through eating fruits and vegetables. They’re typically very good for your immune system. Vitamins and minerals give structure to our bodies and the systems operating within. Antioxidants help our body function more efficiently and prevent oxidative damage, which is what makes us age.
Apples have been hailed for helping heal the body for centuries, but scientific method has only recently been able to extensively study the fruit. Many of the most important claims made about apples turned out to be true.
Apples can help with anything from repairing damaged tissues that can impair strength or vision, to maintaining a proper electrical current to the brain so it can communicate effectively.
Apples can help with anything from repairing damaged tissues that can impair strength or vision, to maintaining a proper electrical current to the brain so it can communicate effectively.
A particular nutrient of interest in apples is vitamin C. Scurvy - a deficiency of vitamin C - is a disease that often conjures images of swashbuckling pirates with missing teeth, bad gums, and scabbed arms. These are all symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, which often happened to seamen on long voyages when deprived of fresh food.
Why is vitamin C so important?
What’s the good thing about knowing the symptoms of scurvy? Almost everything vitamin C deficiency causes, can be reversed and, in healthy people, made even healthier - simply by eating a good supply of the vitamin Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and is responsible for a lot of the health benefits you’ll find in apples - stronger grums, healthier skin, and strong teeth just to name a few!
Considering apples are incredibly well-known for being healthy, it’s surprising how few nutrients they have in them. A lot of their nutritional value is from the single, potent vitamin/antioxidant that is vitamin C. Unfortunately, a huge number of people in modern society are deficient in vitamin C. 15 percent of the population in the United States is classified as deficient in vitamin C!
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is one of the most well-known and commonly studied vitamins on the planet. It is responsible for a vast number of health-bolstering effects, and can even function on its own as an antioxidant.
Antioxidants prevent the symptoms of aging by fighting oxidative damage, which occurs during natural periods of stress. Oxidative damage gradually reduces the function of organs, tissues, and cells, causing the slow degradation of the human body.
Preventing this oxidation is the key activity - and appeal - of antioxidants. They fight the underlying cause of pretty much every type of natural aging, and can greatly extend the human lifespan. Vitamin C, in particular, is good at
Bolstering the strength and improving the appearance of your hair
Increasing the health of your teeth and gums
Strengthening your skin, making it appear young and healthy
Increasing the speed with which your body heals injuries
While apples have an impressive amount of vitamin C - around ten percent of our daily value per apple - and fiber - almost 4 grams of insoluble fiber, and half a gram of soluble - they’re also impressively low in other nutrients. They only have trace amounts of the B complex, biotin, vitamin E, chromium, copper, and potassium. The amount of these nutrients present isn’t enough to bother supplementing apples to fix a deficiency.
Antioxidants in apples and their effects on human health
It’s not just vitamin C that helps your body ward off the unpleasant symptoms of scurvy. You may wonder how else apples can help you, if their main nutrient is only vitamin C?
Despite having a very small profile of nutrients and minerals apples have a ton of components that bolster our abilities as humans. These aren’t vitamins and minerals, though - most of them are antioxidants.
Polyphenols are divided into two subtypes - flavonoids and non-flavonoids. Many of the polyphenols in apples are found in the skin - so make sure you don’t peel them before eating them, or you’ll be peeling off a lot of the health benefits!
Apples are responsible for about a fifth of the total polyphenols consumed in the United States. Among apple’s polyphenols are
Quercetin glycoside, responsible for fighting atherosclerosis and maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood sugar.
Phloretin glycoside, another flavonoid commonly found in all varieties of apples, helps the body’s immune system function and helps excrete waste effectively and efficiently.
Chlorogenic acid speeds up your body’s metabolism while simultaneously slowing the absorption of fat, making it an ideal antioxidant for people hoping to lose weight.
Epicatechin is an antioxidant capable of mimicking insulin and can consequently improve heart health and help fight against diabetes.
Different varieties of apples will have different antioxidant capacities. Of these different varieties, even individual batches will have different amounts. It’s possible to pick-and-choose different types of apples for the specific types of antioxidants that you require for your own personal choice of diet.
The variance of antioxidants will not differ too drastically, so you can be sure that the health benefits listed below will apply to most - if not all - apples.
Apples can help you lose weight
Apples are high in two things that make them appealing for those hoping to lose weight - fiber, and water.
Fiber, being a nutrient that’s indigestible by the human body, swells in the stomach making a person feel full quicker. Foods high in water are also low calorie, allowing a person to essentially ‘eat’ their way to hydration, and fill their stomach up with minimal calories.
A study was done on people who ate apple slices before meals. Those who did felt more full than a control group that ate applesauce prior to their meal, and the applesauce group felt fuller than the group eating no apples. They were found to consume an average of 200 calories per meal less than the other groups.
Apples also proved more effective than oats in a study done on overweight women. While oats are also very fibrous, they don’t contain much water - this may be why apples are more effective in this specific study.
Conclusion: Apples are a good dietary addition for those hoping to lose weight. The combination of fiber and water help to hydrate and improve metabolism of humans. They are also a low-calorie food, making them an even more attractive option for those changing their meal plans.
2. Apples can reduce LDL cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol that your body uses. Despite frequent rumours, we actually need some cholesterol - the difference lies in the qualities of the two types. These are
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is highly oxidative and sticks to the walls of your veins and arteries.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is much denser than LDL and can essentially ‘scrub’ LDL cholesterol off the veins before it has a chance to oxidize. HDL cholesterol also plays a role in bile production.
Apples have a good fiber content, and are shown to reduce LDL cholesterol. Fiber increases the body’s excretion of bile (a substance produced in the liver.) Without enough fiber, your body will cycle its bile through the liver for re-use - which can be dangerous.
Bile is created in response to consumption of fat or toxins, and does most of its work in the intestine where it breaks down food and ‘kidnaps’ the unhealthy fats or toxins. It’s then cycled back through the bloodstream - with all the broken down unhealthy bits - and taken back to the liver, which filters out the unhealthy parts and releases it into more bile.
Since fiber isn’t digested by the body, bile can’t dissolve it. This means that fiber can pick up bile and bring it to the end of the digestive tract, where it can be disposed off.LDL cholesterol is one of the many things excreted through bile. If bile is continually recycled, this allows cholesterol to build up and harden. This can cause, among other things, gallstones - painful solids that block up the gallbladder.
Conclusion: Apples can help the body excrete cholesterol by improving and managing the production of bile. Without enough fiber, bile excretion slows and can cause damage. Apples can reverse this.
3. Apples can improve mental health and intelligence
The antioxidants in apples include quercetin in abundance. Quercetin is one of the two compounds studied in the Experimental Biology and Medicine journal that reliably reduced neural cell death caused by oxidation and inflammation. It has been known for some time that apples help the brain, but only recently has quercetin been revealed as the magic ingredient.
The same journal found that working memory was bolstered in mice suffering from a rodent equivalent of Alzheimer’s, but only after consuming quercetin. A study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s found even mice who weren’t already subject to neurodegenerative diseases showed improvement to working memory as well.
This is likely because apples are linked to enhanced production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that transmits messages from neuron to neuron. Being deficient in vital neurotransmitters such as this one would result in an ineffective pathway for communication between brain cells. Acetylcholine, in particular, is one of the most common neuotransmitters and is used extremely often by the brain.
Apples can also clear up symptoms related to a deficiency of acetylcholine. Deficiency of acetylcholine is very rarely considered as a cause of depression, and thus not treated often. Deficiencies in acetylcholine are marked by headaches, brain fog, and depression.
Conclusion: Apples ensure the brain can produce a proper amount of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is hugely important in the brain’s communication. Apples have been shown to improve memory in mice both with and without signs of degenerative brain disease.
4. Apples can prevent heart disease
We’ve mentioned that the high fiber content in apples lowers cholesterol. Cholesterol can cause a number of heart diseases in a number of ways. It can build up in arteries and veins, clogging them and causing high blood pressure or even strokes. It can lead to atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of arteries and veins that can put tremendous strain on the heart.
One of the polyphenols among the apple’s antioxidants is known as epicatechin. It has been shown to lower blood pressure. Some of the flavonoids in apples are also shown to lower blood pressure, along with further reducing LDL cholesterol.
Apples have an effective combination of things that fight blood fats. The high amount of fiber, along with a component of plant cellular structure known as ‘pectin’ which functions similarly to fiber, were thought to be mostly responsible for the heart benefits. It has been suggested now that the pectins interact with other phytonutrients to provide even more of an effect than one would typically find by just eating fiber.
Daily consumption of apples has been compared by some researchers to daily supplementation of statins - a family of drugs used primarily for reducing cholesterol. They are suggested to be as effective as statins at preventing heart-related death.
Conclusion: Eating apples regularly helps your body defend against heart disease by lowering cholesterol among other things. Apples do this with their antioxidants, and by offering a good amount of fiber.
5. Apples can help you breathe better
Apples have drawn conclusive links between their nutritional content and better lung function in both adults and children. In fact, pregnant women who eat apples were shown to be less likely to give birth to children at risk of developing asthma.
Quercetin strikes again - it’s believed to be responsible for apples having a positive effect on your breathing. Green tea, red wine and onions all contain quercetin - and all can have a positive effect on your lungs. Quercetin seems to act as a bronchodilator, allowing for easier passage of oxygen in and out of the lungs.
Nottingham University was the institute responsible for most of these studies. Over 2,500 people were sampled, all of which had lung-related issues such as asthma. After examining their diets and testing their lung function, they were told to eat apples on a regular basis.
The study found that people with the greatest lung capacity already ate at least five apples on a weekly basis. The frequency of wheezing was also far less prominent among people who eat apples often.
Conclusion: Apples are an effective bronchodilator, making it easy for the passageways in your lungs to breathe in and let out air. They also contain antioxidants the display an ability to fight off respiratory diseases already present, including asthma.
6. Apples can fight different types of cancer
Studies on cancer prevention methods are looking at apples as being a contender for possible cancer-warding abilities. Francis Raul, PhD and director at the French National Institute for Health, suggests that a chemical present in apples can hinder the development of colon cancer.
The chemical is a type of antioxidant of the procyanidin variety. Cancer cells, when exposed to these particular antioxidants, promptly triggered cell death.
Rats exposed to colon cancer carcinogens were studied. They were made to drink procyanidins mixed in water. After six weeks of this treatment, the number of cancerous lesions were far fewer than those in rats who had been consuming their regular diet.
Another type of compound in apples, known as triterpenoids, effectively prevent cancer cell growth. Triterpenoids are primarily located in the skin of the apple, so for maximum benefit, ensure you eat the whole thing. Not all triterpenoids are equally effective, so eating a variety of whole apples is the best way to ensure you get the most benefit.
Conclusion: Triterpenoids, along with other flavonoids and phytochemicals, have been tested to prove that apples have a number of compounds present that can fight against cancer. By shrinking tumours and preventing the growth of cancerous cells, apples are a good weapon against the disease.
8. Apples can prevent diabetes
The beautiful redness of apples isn’t just aesthetically appealing. The pigment is caused by a certain type of antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are also very good at preventing type 2 diabetes from developing.
Through studies evaluating the efficacy of regular consumption of food containing anthocyanins (including blueberries, pears, and apples) scientists have found a link between anthocyanins and decreased chances of emerging typing 2 diabetes. Over 12,000 people were studied, and the risk was significantly decreased.
Anthocyanins are shown to increase the production of insulin, effectively modulating blood sugar. Anthocyanins were tested on the pancreatic cells of mice. Insulin is produced in the pancreas (of both humans and other animals.) Exposed cells increased production of insulin y up to 50 percent.
These breakthroughs are leading the medical community towards new ideas. It has been suggested that medicine for diabetics could be derived from anthocyanins, and could be more effective than just using insulin. They help the body produce its own insulin instead of relying on an external source.
Conclusion: Apples are a great way to modulate your blood sugar. By doing this, they can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, and prevent folks from developing diabetes in the first place. Their anthocyanin content is largely responsible for this effect.
9. Apples help bolster the body’s immune system
Apples are one of the best natural ways for the body to bolster its immune system. There are a couple ways that they do this.
Firstly, fiber plays a very important role in the function of the immune system. Fiber hauls waste out of the body. If it didn’t do this, the immune system would be left to constantly deal with it. This would occupy resources which the immune system could otherwise use for different things. The bile is also constantly recycled, becoming more and more toxic with each cycle.
The other main culprit is vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant. Vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against pathogens. It supports production of phagocytes and interferons. Interferons have a self-explanatory name - they are produced to interfere against detected threats. Phagocytes are white blood cells that consume dangerous bacteria.
Vitamin C also enhances nitric oxide production, which can be drained during bacterial infection. Phagocytes use large amounts of nitric oxide, and the body needs to replenish it before making more.
Conclusion: Apples contain two powerful immune boosting nutrients. The combination of these nutrients makes them a very useful weapon for fighting back against many types of infection.
10. Apples are potent anti-inflammatory agents
Apples are high in flavonoids, and a number of these antioxidants are shown to be anti-inflammatory agents. Inflammation is a very common and widespread issue, but its danger is often undershot. Inflammation has been shown to be the root cause of most diseases. Yep - cancer, mental issues, strokes, immune deficiencies - all these can be traced to inflammation.
Specific conditions that can be fought by apples acting as anti-inflammatory agents include atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, peptic ulcers, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and skin conditions.
Quercetin is the most potent of the available anti-inflammatory components in apples.
Conclusion: Apples are effective fighters of inflammation, and can reduce the incidence of a high number of diseases related to inflammation.
11. Apples can fight allergies
As long as you’re not allergic to apples themselves, apples can help your body limit its allergic response. Quercetin, again, is the magic ingredient here. It’s a natural antihistamine, and can control your body’s release of histamine.
Histamines are released when the body detects an allergen, and are responsible for the itchy, sneezy, sniffling sensations that are well-known to allergy sufferers. Quercetin can prevent or at least modulate the release of histamine from the immune system.
It’s a potent remedy - ancient Chinese medicine used quercetin extracts to prevent allergic reactions from foods like peanuts, which are often strong and intense. Quercetin has proven to be as strong as some pharmaceutical drugs.
Conclusion: Before going to the pharmacy, you might want to consider eating apples. They are high in quercetin, an antioxidant that’s highly effective as an anti-allergen.
How to Eat Apples for Maximum Nutritional Benefit
I’m sure you’re hankering to start munching apples after reading all about their benefits. Fortunately, apples extremely versatile ingredients and can be used in an endless number of recipes. They make great snacks by themselves, can be baked into a crispy treat that can be further modified to make desserts. They blend amazingly into smoothies, they can be served with dinner entrees or used in stuffing.
Here are a few quick serving ideas if you need some apple right now.
Throw an apple in a blender with a banana, some blueberries, and a glass of almond milk. Thirty seconds of blending and you’ll have a smoothie.
Dice apples and add them to your morning cereal or oatmeal.
Bake apples with cinnamon or cocoa powder on them for a tasty dessert.
Using apple slices as a means for scooping peanut butter has been a childhood favourite for years.
Chopped apples can go nicely in salads.
Make sure you buy local, organic apples. Processed or frozen apples tend to have lost a lot of their nutrients. Some nutrients, like vitamin C, are particularly sensitive to damage.
Peel as few apples as possible. Most of the antioxidants are located in the skin, and a large portion of those in the flesh are located near the skin.
Choosing and storing apples properly
You want to make sure your apples are stored properly. Some leave them on the counter,, others in the fridge. Some like theirs red, others green. Here, we’ll look at different methods of storage and selection.
No matter what colour you prefer your apples, make sure the colour is rich and the texture is hard. Dull colours might indicate over- or under-ripeness. Red and gold apples are often sweeter. Fuji apples are moderately tart; as are Braeburn apples. Granny Smith apples are among the most tart, along with Pippin apples. These types are best for cooking, as they can maintain their texture better than other types.
For those in the northern hemisphere, apples should be bought towards the end of summer, throughout fall, and just until early winter. These are the prime harvest times. While apples are available year round, apples purchased at other times will have spent time in storage or have been imported.
Apples in cold storage can last for up to four months. Cold storage also minimizes damage to the nutrients in an apple, and helps them retain their moisture. Even after long periods of storage, apples maintain an impressive amount of nutrients. Storage at room temperature vastly decreases the amount of time they can be stored, and increases the destruction of nutrients.
Bruised or damaged apples should be disposed of or used immediately. Injured apples release ethylene, which seems to make other apples degrade quicker. Make sure you’re gentle with them.
Apple Recipes for You to Try at Home
We shall include here apple-based recipes of all varieties. Included will be enough recipes to make a full course meal - desserts, drinks, salads, entrees and appetizers. Try to ensure all the ingredients you buy are organic, for maximum health benefit.
Here’s your apple-based drink recipe! It’s a sweet and spicy drink where a blend of flavours mix together perfectly before soothing your throat. The recipe’s non-alcoholic, but some sweet spirits wouldn’t make a bad addition.
You will need:
Eight apple peels
Two cinnamon sticks
Sweetener - honey or maple syrup
Grate the zest off your lemon, then mix everything together, except for the flesh of your lemon, into a saucepan. Bring it all to a boil and cook for a minute, then turn the heat off, cover it, and let it sit on the element and steep for 15 minutes.
Afterwards, strain the mixture into a different pan to heat it back up. Add more sweetener or lemon juice if you think the taste needs adjustment. Otherwise, serve hot.
The bland name doesn’t do this recipe any justice. It’s a healthy, hearty salad to fill the time between appetizers and main courses. This only takes five minutes to make, and the recipe serves five.
You will need:
A teaspoon of honey
A tablespoon of mustard
A sprinkle of garlic powder
A sprinkle of pepper
Two tablespoons of olive oil
A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
Three stalks of celery
A quarter cup of raisins
First, make your dressing. Simply mix your honey, mustard, garlic, pepper, olive oil and vinegar in a bowl and mix until everything’s combined evenly.
Dice your apples and celery net. When they’re done, simply throw them into your salad dressing with the raisins and mix until they’re coated evenly. Once that’s finished, they are ready to serve!
Here is a great apple appetizer - I call it an appletizer. If cut into small slices to serve a group, this recipe can make up to 30 sandwich squares. They’re also great to serve to kids. Preparation is quick and simple.
You will need:
A loaf of raisin bread, preferably with nuts (walnuts or pecans are good)A quarter cup of honey Dijon mustard
Six Granny Smith or other tart apples
Ten slices of extra old cheddar
Cut your loaf of bread into ten pieces, so you have enough for making two sandwiches. Spread honey Dijon over each slice.
Slice your apples quite thin. Put a piece of cheese on each piece of bread, then top with apple slices. I prefer to only put the apple slices on one half of each sandwich so there aren’t any difficulties closing the sandwiches.
When they’re put together, chop off the crusts. Each sandwich should be able to make three lengthwise slices - if you don’t want to slice them, you can just have five sandwiches as your appetizers.
Here’s your entree, and wow - this recipe is fantastic. The apples and cranberries create an unbeatable, tangy pairing that complements the chicken and pasta. This goes great with a green salad - perhaps throw some greens into the apple salad listed earlier and add it as an accompaniment.
You will need:
A tablespoon of butter
500 grams of boneless chicken
Four green onions
Two cooking apples - Granny Smith, or other tart variety
Pinch of nutmeg
Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
One and a half cups of whipping cream
Half a cup of dry cranberries
A cup of shredded cheddar
Melt half your butter in a big pan. Cut the chicken into strips, and brown them over medium-high. Don’t cook them all - just cook enough at a time so that they comfortably fit in your skillet. Put them in a bowl when they’re browned.
Add the rest of your butter to the same pan. Slice your green onions and your apples (thinly), then add them to the skillet with your nutmeg, almost a teaspoon of salt, and a tiny pinch of pepper. Cook until things are softened - about three minutes. Stir frequently.
When your ingredients are softened, add your vinegar to the skillet. Make sure nothing is sticking to the pan, then stir the cream and cranberries in. Bring this all to a boil, then reduce until it reaches a gentle boil. Stirring often, continue to boil until the mixture begins to thicken. This should take less than five minutes.
Meanwhile, get a big pot of water, salt it, and bring it to a boil. Cook your pasta until it’s tender, then drain it and let it sit back in the pot.
Once the sauce has slightly thickened, add the chicken and its juice. Bring to a simmer and cook for about three minutes. Once the chicken has lost all of its pink, you can pour the chicken and sauce overtop the pasta. Put your grated cheese on top. Toss if you desire, and garnish with your sliced chives.
Here’s your dessert - a mixture of sweet apples and nutty cheese. This delicious recipe only takes half an hour to make, and serves four.
2 tablespoons of butter - no salt
A small onion
A sheet of frozen puff pastry
Two large apples, medium-sweet
Four ounces of Gruyere cheese
Preheat your oven to 400 fahrenheit. Heat a tablespoon of butter over medium in a small pan. In this, saute your onion until it’s soft, then set aside.
Meanwhile, roll out your puff pastry until it’s about 13 x 10, in the shape of a rectangle. Cut it into four smaller rectangles, each six and a half by five inches. Score four lines into the border of each of these small rectangles, set about a half-inch in: this will make a border for your tarts.
When they’re all cut, line a baking sheet with parchment and put the tarts on it.
Half of your sauteed onions can now be divided evenly on top of your tarts. After this, layer each tart with three rows of apple slices. Put the remaining onions on top with the Gruyere and the remaining butter.
Bake for about twenty minutes, or until the apples are just tender and the cheese is turning gold.
The apple is a very versatile fruit, both in terms of nutrition, and culinary application.
It can make a huge variety of different meals for different occasions and preferences. Sweet, tart, tangy, rich, nutty - any flavour palate can be paired with the apple,, with great results.
It’s also an incredibly useful powerhouse of antioxidants. The apple is hard to beat in terms of pure nutritional strength. While many foods boast more vitamins and nutrients than the apple, its particular batch of antioxidants are unbeatable when it comes to building immune strength.
Everyone should include apples in their diet. If you want to keep the doctor away, start eating your daily apple - you won’t regret it.