An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
6 reasons to eat an apple today.
So how much truth is there in this old saying? More than you might think.
It has long been known that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced cancer risk and heart disease. And it turns out the humble apple is a major contributor to these benefits. So how does that Granny Smith or Red Delicious keep you healthy? Here are 6 ways.
Apples are a good source of fibre, containing both soluble and insoluble fibre when the skin is eaten. Soluble fibre is helpful in reducing cholesterol levels, a known risk factor for heart disease. Additionally apples contain phytonutrients that slow the oxidizing of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the bad one). The oxidization of LDL allows it to form fatty plaques on the inside of your arteries. This is called atherosclerosis and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Researchers at the University of California found a slowing of LDL oxidation after only 6 weeks of either drinking ~350ml of 100% apple juice or eating 2 apples.
Phytonutrients in apples can help with control of blood sugar (glucose). They can inhibit enzymes responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates into simpler sugars. As a result these sugars are not absorbed so less glucose is available to go into the blood. Also the high fibre content of apples contributes to slowing the absorption of glucose that is there.
The insoluble fibre in apples helps move things through and the soluble fibre contributes to healthy gut bacteria. A healthy gut prevents constipation and associated conditions like haemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Moreover there is growing evidence that a healthy gut environment is essential for a healthy you. An excellent reason to include an apple in your day.
The fibre in an apple will help you feel fuller for longer and at 441 kJ (106 calories) for a medium 150g apple it’s a perfect snack for those wanting to lose weight. In fact a study found that eating an apple 15 minutes before lunch reduced the total amount eaten by 278 kJ (67 calories). This included accounting for the apple eaten before lunch.
Apples contain the mineral boron and this appears to be involved with brain function. Researchers have found that when boron intake is low, brainwave activity associated with mental alertness is decreased. The antioxidant benefits of apples also appear to assist in reducing age related cognitive impairment. A neurotransmitter acetylcholine declines with age causing memory and cognitive performance problems. In fact it is noted to be reduced in Alzheimer’s disease sufferers In mice with age-related cognitive impaired their cognitive abilities significantly improve when given apple juice.
Your lungs are highly susceptible to oxidative damage. Unsurprising given their job puts them in continual contact with oxygen! Antioxidants in the peel of an apple (especially the red ones) provide antihistamine and inflammatory effects that can reduce your chance of developing asthma and help protect you against damage from air pollutants.