8 Impressive Health Benefits of Apples
Written by Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA and Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD — Medically reviewed by Amy Richter, RD, Nutrition — Updated on January 5, 2022
With over 7,000 different cultivars available worldwide, it’s no surprise that apples are the most widely consumed fruit globally (1Trusted Source).
From sweet red varieties, like Red Delicious, Fuji or Gala, to tangy green ones, like Granny Smith — my personal favorite that I enjoy with lime juice and a little salt when I want a savory snack — there sure is an apple for everyone.
They’re commonly used in recipes, like pies, cookies, muffins, jam, salads, oatmeal, or smoothies. They also make a great snack on their own or wedged and smeared with nut butter.
In addition to their culinary versatility and numerous colors and flavors to choose from, apples are an exceptionally healthy fruit with many research-backed benefits.
Here are eight impressive health benefits of apples.
Apples are considered nutrient-dense fruits, meaning they provide a lot of nutrients per serving.
The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2 cups of fruit daily for a 2,000-calorie diet, emphasizing whole fruits, like apples (2Trusted Source).
One medium 7-ounce (200-grams) apple offers the following nutrients (3Trusted Source):
Carbs: 28 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Vitamin C: 10% of the Daily Value (DV)
Copper: 6% of the DV
Potassium: 5% of the DV
Vitamin K: 4% of the DV
The same serving also provides 2–5% of the DV for vitamins E, B1, and B6.
Vitamin E serves as a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin B1 — also known as thiamine — is needed for growth and development, and vitamin B6 is essential for protein metabolism (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Apples are also a rich source of polyphenols, an important group of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells from free radicals — harmful molecules that contribute to the development of chronic conditions, like heart disease and cancer (4Trusted Source).
While nutrition labels don’t list these plant compounds, they’re likely responsible for many of apples’ health benefits (1Trusted Source)
To get the most out of apples, leave the skin on, as it contains half of the fiber and most of the polyphenols (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants, like vitamin E, and polyphenols that contribute to the fruit’s numerous health benefits.
2. May support weight loss
Apples are high in fiber and water, two qualities that make them filling.
An increasing feeling of fullness works as a weight-loss strategy, as it helps manage your appetite. This, in turn, might lead you to reduce your energy intake (9Trusted Source).
In one study, eating whole apples increased feelings of fullness for up to 4 hours longer than consuming equal amounts of apple purée or juice. This happened, because whole apples reduce gastric emptying — the rate at which your stomach empties its contents (10Trusted Source).
Research also suggests apple intake may significantly reduce Body Mass Index (BMI), a weight-related risk factor for heart disease (11Trusted Source).
Interestingly, apple polyphenols may also have anti-obesity effects (12Trusted Source).
Apples are particularly filling due to their high fiber and water content. Their polyphenols may also have anti-obesity effects.
3. Could be good for your heart
Apples have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease (13Trusted Source).
One reason may be that they contain soluble fiber. This kind of fiber can help lower your blood cholesterol levels.
Another reason may be that they offer polyphenols. Some of these, namely the flavonoid epicatechin, may lower blood pressure (13Trusted Source).
Studies have also linked high intakes of flavonoids with a lower risk of stroke (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Plus, flavonoids can help prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing LDL cholesterol oxidation, and reducing atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in your arteries (14Trusted Source).
Another study has also linked eating white-fleshed fruits and vegetables, like apples and pears, to a reduced risk of stroke. For every 1/5 cup (25 grams) of apple slices consumed per day, the risk of stroke decreased by 9% (16Trusted Source).
Apples promote heart health in several ways. They’re high in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. They also have polyphenols, which are linked to lower blood pressure and stroke risk.
4. Linked to a lower risk of diabetes
Eating apples may also reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
A compilation of studies found that eating apples and pears was associated with an 18% reduction in type 2 diabetes risk. In fact, just one serving per week may reduce the risk by 3% (17Trusted Source).
Their high content of the antioxidant polyphenols quercetin and phloridzin could explain this beneficial effect (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Quercetin’s anti-inflammatory effects may reduce insulin resistance, a big risk factor for the onset of diabetes. Meanwhile, phloridzin is believed to reduce sugar uptake in the intestines, contributing to a reduced blood sugar load and thereby reduced diabetes risk (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Eating apples is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, potentially due to their polyphenol content.
5. May promote gut health
Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic. This means it feeds your gut microbiota, which is the good bacteria in your gut.
Being involved in many functions related to both health and disease, your gut microbiota plays an essential role in your overall well-being. A healthy gut is often key for better health (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Since dietary fiber cannot be digested, pectin reaches your colon intact, promoting the growth of good bacteria. It especially improves the ratio of Bacteriodetes to Firmicutes, the two main types of bacteria in your gut (13Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
New research suggests that, by beneficially altering your gut microbiota, apples may help protect against chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (13Trusted Source).
The type of fiber found in apples improves your gut-friendly bacteria, which may be why the fruit is thought to help protect against chronic diseases.
6. Might help prevent cancer
Antioxidants in apples may offer beneficial effects against certain types of cancers, including lung, breast, and digestive tract cancers (26Trusted Source).
Test-tube studies suggest that these effects may be attributed to apple polyphenols keeping cancerous cells from multiplying (27Trusted Source).
What’s more, one study in women reported that higher apple intakes were linked to a lower risk of cancer death (28Trusted Source).
Apples’ fiber content may also contribute to their cancer-fighting properties.
For example, another test-tube study found that apple pectin fiber could inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and even trigger their death (29Trusted Source).
However, further research in humans is needed to better understand the possible link between apples and cancer prevention — for example, to identify adequate amounts and eating timing (27Trusted Source).
Apple’s fiber and antioxidant content have been linked to a reduced risk of certain types of cancer. However, more research in humans is needed.
7. Could help fight asthma
Antioxidant-rich apples may help protect your lungs from oxidative damage.
An excess of harmful molecules called free radicals can cause oxidative damage. This may lead to inflammatory and allergenic responses in your body (30Trusted Source).
Apple skin is rich in the antioxidant quercetin, which can help regulate your immune system and reduce inflammation. Theoretically, this could make apples effective against late phases of bronchial asthma responses (30Trusted Source).
Supporting this, test-tube and animal studies suggest quercetin may be a suitable treatment for allergic inflammatory diseases like asthma and sinusitis (30Trusted Source).
Similarly, other compounds found in apples, including ones called proanthocyanidins, may reduce or prevent allergic asthma airway inflammation (31Trusted Source).
Still, more human research is needed on the topic.
Apples contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help regulate immune responses and protect against asthma. However, more research, especially in humans, is needed.
8. May help protect your brain
Quercetin in apples may protect your brain from damage caused by oxidative stress (32Trusted Source).
Research in rats shows that quercetin’s antioxidant effects may protect the brain and nerves from oxidative damage and prevent injuries that can result in degenerative brain diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).
In addition, quercetin may prevent stress-associated nerve damage by regulating oxidative and inflammatory stress markers (31Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, keep in mind that most research focuses on a specific compound instead of whole apples. Therefore, further research is still needed before any conclusions can be drawn.
Quercetin in apples may protect your brain against oxidative stress. However, further research is needed to validate the effect of eating the whole fruit.
The bottom line
Apples are an incredibly nutritious fruit that offers multiple health benefits.
They’re rich in fiber and antioxidants. Eating them is linked to a lower risk of many chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Apples may also promote weight loss and improve gut and brain health.
Even though more research is still needed to better understand how apples affect human health, you can’t go wrong with this tasty, versatile, and easily accessible fruit.
Just one thing
Try this today: Eat whole, unpeeled apples instead of apple juice or purée to get the best out of the fruit.
Link to original article below.