National Nutrition Month is back again, and I’m giving a nod to this annual wellness initiative by focusing on one of the healthiest foods that we grow. The nutrition powers of fresh apples are well-documented and even embedded into our minds (“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”). But, what do we really know about this superfood? This post shares about 5 of the superfood powers of delicious apples.
Superfood Power #1: Apples can aid in weight loss and fight obesity.
Apples are naturally free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium and a low calorie, yet nutrient dense food. The portability and year-round availability of apples makes them a great choice for a nutritious daily snack. Apples are a great source of dietary fiber – with 5 grams in one medium-size fruit. The type of fiber found in apples is soluble fiber, which can help people feel fuller, longer. I’ve written before about how crunching on an apple 15 minutes before lunch could help a person consume fewer calories overall. Adding to the obesity-fighting powers of apples is a recent study from Washington State University researchers that linked eating apples (and in particular, Granny Smith apples) to the prevention of disorders associated with obesity. The non-digestible compounds (fiber, polyphenols) and low carbohydrates in apples remain intact when they reach the colon, where they are fermented by bacteria, which then benefits the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Researchers believe the discovery could help prevent some obesity disorders, including low-grade, chronic inflammation that can lead to diabetes.
Superfood Power #2: Apples are brain boosters.
Apples contain a powerful antioxidant, called quercetin, that Cornell University researchers found to protect brain cells during oxidation. Quercetin is believed to block free radicals from damaging brain cells, as well as other types of cells. The skin of the apple contains most of its quercetin so it’s important to eat the entire apple to reap it’s brain boosting benefits. Other studies have linked apples to reducing memory loss and the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Superfood Power #3: Apples are good for the heart.
The antioxidant powers of apples also benefit the heart. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that participants who ate an apple a day for 4 weeks lowered blood levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) by as much as 40% in comparison to those who did not. High cholesterol increases one’s risk for heart disease, which as noted in this post, is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The fiber and vitamin C found in apples also helps protect the heart.
Superfood Power #4: Apples may lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
People who eat at least two servings each week of certain fruits (apples, blueberries, and grapes) could significantly lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a 2013 study led by Harvard School of Public Health. In the study, those who ate two servings of these fruit each week lowered their diabetes risk by 23% in comparison to those who ate less than one serving per month.
Superfood Power #5: Apples are good for maintaining healthy skin and bones.
Apples are a good source of vitamin C (one medium apple has 14% of the recommended daily vitamin C value) and also contain vitamin B. Both of these essential vitamins promote skin health by speeding up skin cell production, and fighting acne and skin irritation. Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples might be extra protective for the skin because they contain high levels of collagen and elastin. Apples also protect the bones thanks to phloridzin, a flavonoid that can protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis, and bone-protecting boron.
Crisp, juicy, full of sweet-tart flavors AND nutrition, it’s no wonder why apples are enjoyed by many each and every day. For more National Nutrition Month reading, take a look at last year’s post for 31 nutritious ways to enjoy apples and pears. Happy, nutritious eating!