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Apple is one of the most popular, delicious and nutritious fruits on the earth. There is a certain charisma and mystery in this bright red food and it has a sweet and juicy flavour is simply divine. Maybe that is what enticed Adam and Eve to this fabled fruit of knowledge. Interestingly, the word Malus means either "apple" or "evil". 

Did you know?

Malus sieversii, the wild ancestor of apples is still found in central Asia, where apples are believed to be originated. 

Apples are entirely edible including their skin. There are more than 7500 known cultivars of apple and each one has different uses. Red coloured apples are rich in antioxidants which make them an ideal anti-ageing fruit and green and yellow apples contain plenty of quercetin, that helps enhance one's psychological health. Apple is also known to make your skin healthy, flawless and soft. However, apple seeds are believed to be dangerous if they are eaten.

Commercially popular apple varieties are usually soft but crunchy. Some of them are cultivated to be eaten raw and fresh (dessert apples), while some of them are cultivated for cooking (cooking apples) and making cider. 

The flesh and the skin, which are a rich source of anthocyanins and tannins provide the main source of nutrients in an apple. This fruit is full of vitamins, fibre, and other nutrients which enrich it with several healing properties.

Apples can be used to lower cholesterol, maintain heart health and are good for the teeth. They can also be used to prevent cancer and control diabetes.

No wonder they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”

Some  basic facts about Apples:

  • Botanical name: Malus Domestica/ Malus pumila
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Common Name: Apple, Seb
  • Sanskrit name: Phalaprabhedaḥ
  • Parts used: Skin, Pulp
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Apple is being cultivated worldwide, with China being the largest producer. China produces around 44 million tonnes of apple every year. In India, apple is mostly grown in Kashmir, hills of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Meghalaya.
  • Interesting facts: It takes about 36 apples to produce 3.7 litres of apple cider, a popular and healthy type of vinegar
  1. Apple nutrition facts
  2. Apple health benefits
  3. Apple side effects
  4. Takeaway

Apple is considered to be one of the healthiest fruits. About 86% of the apple is made up of water. They also contain a variety of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Apples are enriched with vitamins A, C and K and they contain negligible amounts of fat.

Based on the USDA Nutrient Database, 100 g of apples contain the following values:

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Water 85.56 g
Energy 52 kcal
Protein 0.26 g
Fat 0.17 g
Carbohydrate 13.81 g
Fibre 2.4 g
Sugars 10.39 g
Minerals  
Calcium 6 mg
Iron 0.12 mg
Magnesium 5 mg
Phosphorus 11 mg
Potassium 107 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Zinc 0.04 mg
Vitamins  
Vitamin A 3 µg
Vitamin B1 0.017 mg
Vitamin B2 0.026 mg
Vitamin B3 0.091 mg
Vitamin B6 0.041 mg
Vitamin B9 3 µg
Vitamin C 4.6 mg
Vitamin E 0.18 mg
Vitamin K 2.2 µg
Fats/Fatty acids  
Saturated 0.028 g
Monounsaturated 0.007 g
Polyunsaturated 0.051 g

Apples are nutrient-rich fruits that have several benefits for your health. They help improve oral health and lower cholesterol levels. The rich fibre content in apple peels makes it an excellent remedy for stomach problems and weight loss. Let us explore some of the scientifically proven health benefits of apples.

  • Good for heart: Apple exhibits hypocholesterolemic (reduces cholesterol) and antioxidant properties that are conducive to heart health. Not only does it reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases but also they reduce the effect of oxidative stress and improves heart function.
  • Improves oral health: Apple is loaded with antibacterial compounds that kill harmful oral bacteria. Consuming apples daily may not only improve your oral health but also it reduces the risk of dental plaque and caries.
  • Beneficial for diabetics: Clinical studies including more than 2 lakh participants suggests that regular consumption of apples leads to an 18% reduction in diabetes risk. Apple exhibits strong antioxidant properties which improve beta cell function in pancreas, leading to improved insulin production.
  • Improves digestion: Apples contain a good amount of dietary fibre which helps regulate bowel movements and relieve constipation. It also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that aid in improving inflammatory conditions of gut such as inflammatory bowel syndrome.
  • Promotes weight loss: Apple polyphenols exhibit anti-obesity effects, as demonstrated by clinical studies. It has been found to reduce BMI and total body weight due to a low energy density.
  • Anti-ageing: Hosting an arsenal of antioxidants, apples are one of the best anti-ageing foods. It improves organ function and reduces skin ageing signs such as dark spots and fine lines.
  1. Apples for oral health
  2. Apple benefits for heart
  3. Apple for cholesterol
  4. Apple for diabetes
  5. Apple anticancer properties
  6. Apple benefits for respiratory system
  7. Apple benefits for stomach
  8. Apple benefits for skin
  9. Apple for weight loss

Apples for oral health

Poor oral hygiene could lead to bad breath and oral diseases such as periodontitis and, tooth decay. Research suggests that apples could help improve oral hygiene. A study done on 20 subjects showed that consumption of apple leads to a decrease in the bacteria present in the saliva. This effect was similar to the one seen after brushing the teeth.

According to another study, people who consumed more apples had a lower risk of getting oral cancer. This is because of the presence of flavonoids present in apple. Furthermore, the antioxidant properties of apple can help prevent periodontal disease.

Lab-based studies demonstrate that quercetin, present in apple can inhibit the adhesion of bacteria to the teeth surface thus reducing the risk of dental caries.

Apple benefits for heart

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) refers to a group of disorders that affect the heart and the blood vessels. Common CVDs include coronary heart disease, stroke, cardiac arrest and peripheral artery disease. Research indicates that consumption of apples could help reduce the risk of CVDs. Apples are rich in flavonoids and a clinical study on more than 40000 women showed a 35% reduction in cardiovascular diseases upon regular consumption of flavonoids. In an earlier study, apple catechins were found to have a positive correlation with heart health.

Another study suggested that the polyphenols present in the apple peel have antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering properties which are particularly effective in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

(Read more: Heart disease prevention)

Apple for cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced naturally by the body. It can also be absorbed by the body through the foods that we eat and is needed for various metabolic functions. Though, high cholesterol levels increases the risk of diseases like atherosclerosis, obesity and stroke. According to research, apple consumption can have a positive effect on cholesterol levels in the body.

A preclinical study reported that apple supplementation led to a reduction in the plasma cholesterol level and total liver cholesterol. It also led to an increase in the HDL level and decreased absorption of cholesterol from food. This cholesterol-lowering effect can be attributed to the presence of pectin and other phenolic compounds present in apple.

Additionally, the fibres present in apple has also been found to exhibit a potent hypolipidemic (lowers lipids) effects.

Apple for diabetes

Diabetes is a condition marked by elevated blood glucose levels. The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. This condition happens when the body is not able to use insulin properly. Research suggests that there is an inverse association between apple consumption and type 2 diabetes risk. A clinical study done on more than 2 lakh participants demonstrated that there was an 18% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes upon regular intake of apple.

It was further indicated that the catechins present in apple could have protective effects against diabetes which may be mediated by an antioxidant effect. These antioxidants reverse tissue damage which, in turn, improves beta cell function. Beta cells are present in pancreas and are responsible for producing insulin.

Apple anticancer properties

Several pieces of research claim that apples can have chemoprotective effects. A study done on human prostate cancer and breast cancer indicate that apple peels prevent the growth and survival of cancerous cells. Apple peels also led to an increase in maspin, a type of protein that can inhibit the spreading of cancer to the other parts of the body.

According to a review article apples are enriched with oligomeric procyanidins (a type of flavonoids), which are capable of preventing the growth and spread of cancer cells. They can also cause cancer cell death (apoptosis).  

Furthermore, apple peels host several types of triterpenoids, which have been found to be one of the major contributors to its anti-cancer properties.

Apple benefits for respiratory system

Lung disorders are quite common among smokers or people who live in polluted cities. According to studies, apple consumption could be beneficial for lungs. A study done on more than 2500 subjects demonstrated that vitamin C and E, both of which are present in apples could lead to an improvement in the functioning of the lungs.

Another research indicated that regular consumption of apple could help restore lung functions in people who stopped smoking. This improvement in lung function has been attributed to the presence of certain components such as quercetin and catechin. These compounds are also effective in the prevention of lung cancer.

Apple benefits for stomach

The digestive system is responsible for processing the foods we eat and it also facilitates the absorption of nutrients by the body. Unhealthy lifestyle and regular consumption of fast foods can lead to various digestive problems such as diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation and abdominal pain.

According to research, polyphenols in dried apple peel powder can help prevent the inflammation of the stomach. A study done on animal models revealed that the polyphenols present in dried apple peel powder exhibited strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which inhibited the expression of inflammatory prostaglandins and helped reduce cell damage in the intestines. This result indicates the potential use of apple in treating IBS.

In vitro and in vivo (animal-based) studies reveal the gastroprotective action of apple due to the presence of antioxidant polyphenols.

Additionally, apple is a good source of fibre, which is known to increase stool bulk and decrease colon transit time, thus remedying constipation. Even though this action is not as pronounced as some other fibre-rich fruits or wheat bran, it has been found to be significantly useful.

(Read more: How to improve digestion)

Apple benefits for skin

There is an entire market devoted to skin care products for various skin types. But what if you had a natural alternative which is not only cheap but easily available. Apples are rich in vitamin C and polyphenols that have antioxidant properties. Research suggests that these components can help prevent skin ageing. Additionally, it hosts a variety of health building nutrients. This means that it not only reduces wrinkles and dark spots but also helps you attain a healthier and glowing skin. And who doesn’t want that?

(Read more: Antioxidant food sources)

Apple for weight loss

Obesity is a common problem among people who do not have much physical activity or people who tend to overeat. In the long term, obesity can lead to heart complications, high blood pressure and diabetes. So, it is essential to maintain body weight. Studies indicate that regular intake of apples could help in shedding those extra pounds. A clinical study done on 411 subjects revealed that eating three apples a day led to weight loss due to its low energy density.

According to an article published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, apple polyphenols have anti-obesity effects. These are primarily mediated by reducing oxidative stress and interfering with cellular metabolism in fatty tissues. It also reports some preclinical and clinical studies that demonstrate a significant reduction in total body weight and body mass index (BMI) upon regular consumption of apples. However, more studies are needed to find the right dosage and frequency of administration to reap maximum benefits from this fruit.

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

Though this miracle fruit comes with a wide range of health benefits, too much consumption of apple can lead to health issues. Although the side effects are minor and scarce, a balanced diet with moderate consumption of apples is recommended, to reap the maximum benefit out of this fruit.

  • Heavy use of pesticides in the cultivation of apples exposes us to harmful chemicals. Peeling the skin of the apples before eating them can eliminate this risk. However, most of the fibre and vitamin content of apples is found in the peel and peeling the skin off the apples can compromise some of the nutritional value. Buying organic apples is another way to eliminate this risk.
  • Apple seeds contain a significant amount of toxigenic amygdalin, classified as a cyanogenic glycoside. Chronic consumption of amygdalin is considered dangerous and can disturb basic physiological functions in the organism and cells are unable to use oxygen.
  • There were a few reported cases of chronic non-specific diarrhoea (CNSD) in children upon consumption of apple juice

Apple is one of the healthiest fruits: It is rich in various flavonoids and polyphenols. The quercetin and catechin present in apple have several health benefits. It can help lose weight, its antioxidant properties can help prevent cancer, it can help in controlling diabetes and in lowering the cholesterol level. Apple does not have any significant side effects. This makes it an ideal choice of fruit for everyone.

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References

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