- Apples benefit your gut health because they contain prebiotics that feed good gut bacteria.
- Apples also contain soluble and insoluble fiber that may help regulate bowel movements.
- Your immune system may also benefit from eating apples because they contain pectin.
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It turns out there may be some truth to the old age saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Rich in nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, apples come with various health benefits ranging from improving gut health to preventing chronic diseases.
Here are seven known health benefits of apples.
1. May improve gut health
There are good bacteria in your gut that help keep digestive issues like bloating at bay, and research shows that apples — especially organic apples — can maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
“Apples contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber, which is a prebiotic,” says Emily Rice, MD, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
By feeding the good bacteria and helping them thrive, the pectin in apples helps keep your gut healthy, leading to benefits like regular bowel movements and increased immunity, says Rice.
2. May regulate bowel movement
One apple with its peel contains about 4.5 grams of fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fiber, which have the following gut benefits:
- soluble fiber It absorbs water and turns into a gel that can slow digestion and prevent diarrhea.
- Insoluble fiber It increases stool volume and helps food pass quickly through the intestines, preventing constipation.
3. May lower blood pressure
Apples are not necessarily a rich source of potassium, but if you eat them with a healthy, varied diet, the potassium in apples may help improve blood pressure because it relaxes the walls of blood vessels, thus relieving stress:
- A 2015 review of three studies found that people who ate more than four servings per week of whole fruits and vegetables, including apples, were less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who ate whole fruits and vegetables once a month.
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Lowering blood pressure can prevent
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4. May lower cholesterol
Rice says the soluble fiber in apples can help reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed into the bloodstream, which can lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
Lowering cholesterol in general reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 strokes
, and high blood pressure.
A 2015 review found that there was an association between frequent apple consumption and fewer cardiovascular disease risk factors, particularly cholesterol. Researchers have also found that the prebiotics in apples may also play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease.
5. It may strengthen your immune system
Soluble fiber, like the pectin found in apples, may strengthen your immune system, says Alison Childers, M.D., a dietitian and assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University.
“Soluble fiber increases production of the protein interleukin-4 that stimulates T cells. T cells play an important role in our immunity to pathogens,” says Childers.
A 2020 review found that pectin can improve the intestinal immune barrier, which can further protect you from infections in the gut.
6. Might be a diabetes friend
Thanks to the fiber in apples, apples have a low glycemic index, which means they are less likely to cause blood sugar to spike, making them a healthy choice for diabetics.
Apples have a glycemic index of about 28. For comparison, a glass of apple juice, which lacks fiber, has a glycemic index of about 44.
In addition to being a healthy choice for diabetics, apples may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes in the first place:
- A 2005 study specifically linked apples to a lower risk of diabetes, and found that those who ate one apple a day had a 28% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who didn’t eat an apple.
7. May prevent free radical damage
Apples are rich in polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that are loaded with antioxidants.
These polyphenols can help protect the body from cell damage caused by free radicals, and may help prevent conditions such as:
- heart disease
- eyes illnesses
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
It’s important to note that the majority of the antioxidant content comes from the apple peel, says Childers, so cutting the peel should be avoided.
8. May be beneficial for bone health
Childress says that eating apples may contribute to increased bone mineral density.
This can prevent osteoporosis, which is when there is a deterioration in bone structure that can lead to an increased risk of bone fractures.
That’s because the vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and potassium found in apples can reduce the amount of calcium you lose from excretion, thus promoting bone health, says Rice.
A 2012 review found a link between higher fruit intake and increased bone density and bone strength, with apples specifically being one of the fruits studied. The bone benefits of eating the fruit are believed to be related to the antioxidants and other bioactive compounds found in the fruit.
Regularly eating apples, along with other healthy whole foods, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of developing some chronic health conditions.
Always aim to eat a variety of colorful foods to reap a variety of benefits. When eating apples, Rice says they should be eaten whole, as opposed to apple juice or sauce, because eating apples in their natural form preserves more nutrients, so you can get the most out of your snack.