Apples may prevent cancer, reduce cholesterol levels, help against Alzheimer’s disease, and protect bones: apples are a delicious health bomb that should always be part of a daily menu. Here are the reasons we know about today.
Apples have always been considered to be one of the healthiest fruits out there. The phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” says it all.
The best part of this long-held belief is that it isn’t a myth, but an interesting fact confirmed by modern studies. In celebration of the apple season in much of the world, here are some of the main areas in which apples were observed to exert benefits:
1. Bone health
Apples contain a flavonoid called phloretin that holds promise for protection of postmenopausal women from osteoporosis by improving inflammatory markers and increasing bone density1. Women who eat apples may gain protection and strength for their bones, which may better support their general health and lifespan2.
Asthma is a life-threatening illness that can cause a significant amount of distress, especially for children. Researchers recently found that children who eat apples or drink apple juice regularly suffer from less asthma then those who don’t3.
3. Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that manifests in cumulative and devastating loss of memory. A study conducted recently revealed that quercetin, a component that is found in apples, can help protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals which eventually lead to Alzheimer’s4, and may even be beneficial to psychological effects of the disease5.
4. Abnormal cholesterol levels
Elevated LDL (bad cholesterol) and oxidized cholesterol levels can create difficult and even critical health problems, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and associated cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke). Recent studies have found that fiber components in apples such as pectin, help lower blood levels of total and LDL cholesterol6, as well as highly dangerous oxidized cholesterol7.
Recent studies have suggested that eating apples or drinking “cloudy” (whole) apple juice regularly may be protective against various types of cancer8, such as breast9,10, throat, colon11, lung12, and liver13. The high levels of flavonoids, such as quercetin, as well as procyanidin8 and galacturonic acid14,15 may lower the chances of cancer development or progression.
6. Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Diabetes is a dangerous disease associated with various debilitating and deadly consequences if not treated correctly. Scientists found that the pectin found in apples may reduce the body’s need for insulin and support maintenance of glycemic (sugar) balance in the body16.
7. Weight loss
Dealing with our weight can turn into a real challenge in our hectic and tight schedules. According to studies conducted in Brazil, eating apples regularly can assist in losing weight, with beneficial effects on blood fats17,18.
1. Puel C, Quintin A, Mathey J, et al. Prevention of bone loss by phloridzin, an apple polyphenol, in ovariectomized rats under inflammation conditions. Calcified tissue international. Nov 2005;77(5):311-318.
2. Christenson ES, Jiang X, Kagan R, Schnatz P. Osteoporosis management in post-menopausal women. Minerva ginecologica. Jun 2012;64(3):181-194.
3. Okoko BJ, Burney PG, Newson RB, Potts JF, Shaheen SO. Childhood asthma and fruit consumption. The European respiratory journal. Jun 2007;29(6):1161-1168.
4. Toda T, Sunagawa T, Kanda T, Tagashira M, Shirasawa T, Shimizu T. Apple Procyanidins Suppress Amyloid beta-Protein Aggregation. Biochemistry research international. 2011;2011:784698.
5. Remington R, Chan A, Lepore A, Kotlya E, Shea TB. Apple juice improved behavioral but not cognitive symptoms in moderate-to-late stage Alzheimer’s disease in an open-label pilot study. American journal of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Jun 2010;25(4):367-371.
6. Ravn-Haren G, Dragsted LO, Buch-Andersen T, et al. Intake of whole apples or clear apple juice has contrasting effects on plasma lipids in healthy volunteers. European journal of nutrition. Dec 28 2012.
7. Ogino Y, Osada K, Nakamura S, Ohta Y, Kanda T, Sugano M. Absorption of dietary cholesterol oxidation products and their downstream metabolic effects are reduced by dietary apple polyphenols. Lipids. Mar 2007;42(2):151-161.
8. Hyson DA. A comprehensive review of apples and apple components and their relationship to human health. Advances in nutrition. Sep 2011;2(5):408-420.
9. Miura T, Chiba M, Kasai K, et al. Apple procyanidins induce tumor cell apoptosis through mitochondrial pathway activation of caspase-3. Carcinogenesis. Mar 2008;29(3):585-593.
10. Wang J, Chung MH, Xue B, Ma H, Ma C, Hattori M. Estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities of phloridzin. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin. 2010;33(4):592-597.
11. Gallus S, Talamini R, Giacosa A, et al. Does an apple a day keep the oncologist away? Annals of oncology : official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology / ESMO. Nov 2005;16(11):1841-1844.
12. Linseisen J, Rohrmann S, Miller AB, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and lung cancer risk: updated information from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). International journal of cancer. Journal international du cancer. Sep 1 2007;121(5):1103-1114.
13. He X, Liu RH. Triterpenoids isolated from apple peels have potent antiproliferative activity and may be partially responsible for apple’s anticancer activity. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. May 30 2007;55(11):4366-4370.
14. Liu L, Li YH, Niu YB, et al. An apple oligogalactan prevents against inflammation and carcinogenesis by targeting LPS/TLR4/NF-kappaB pathway in a mouse model of colitis-associated colon cancer. Carcinogenesis. Oct 2010;31(10):1822-1832.
15. Tazawa K, Okami H, Yamashita I, Ohnishi Y, Kobashi K, Fujimaki M. Anticarcinogenic action of apple pectin on fecal enzyme activities and mucosal or portal prostaglandin E2 levels in experimental rat colon carcinogenesis. Journal of experimental & clinical cancer research : CR. Mar 1997;16(1):33-38.
16. Sanchez D, Muguerza B, Moulay L, Hernandez R, Miguel M, Aleixandre A. Highly methoxylated pectin improves insulin resistance and other cardiometabolic risk factors in Zucker fatty rats. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. May 28 2008;56(10):3574-3581.
17. Conceicao de Oliveira M, Sichieri R, Sanchez Moura A. Weight loss associated with a daily intake of three apples or three pears among overweight women. Nutrition. Mar 2003;19(3):253-256.
18. de Oliveira MC, Sichieri R, Venturim Mozzer R. A low-energy-dense diet adding fruit reduces weight and energy intake in women. Appetite. Sep 2008;51(2):291-295.