Does an Apple a Day really Keeps the Doctor away?

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in General | Comments Off

Apples are among the most popular types of fruit in the world. They are the fruit of the apple tree (Malus domestica), originally from Central Asia, and are grown all over the world. Apples are high in fiber, vitamin C and various antioxidants. They are also very fulfilling, considering their low calorie content. Studies show that eating apples can have multiple benefits for health. They taste delicious on their own and are usually eaten raw, but they are also used in various recipes, juices and drinks.

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Nutrition Facts:

The table below contains detailed information on all the different nutrients in apples.

Serving 100 grams = 1 Cup, chopped (125g) 1 Cup, slices (109g) 1 Extra small (2-1/2″ dia – 101g) 1 Small (2-3/4″ dia – 149g) 1 Medium (3″ dia – 182g) 1 Large (3-1/4″ dia – 223g) 1 NLEA serving (242g) General Vitamins & minerals

General information:

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Carbohydrates in Apples:

Apples are mainly composed of carbs and water, and are rich in simple sugars, such as fructose, sucrose, and glucose. Despite their high carbohydrate and sugar content, the glycemic index is low, ranging from 29 to 44. The glycemic index is a measure of how food affects the rise in blood sugar levels after eating. Low values are associated with various health benefits. Fruit often score low on the glycemic index, probably due to their high fiber and polyphenol content that helps slow down carbohydrate digestion.

Fiber:

Apples are very rich in fiber. A single medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fiber, about 17% of the recommended daily intake. A portion of their fiber content is made up of both insoluble and soluble fibers called pectin. Soluble fiber has been associated with numerous beneficial effects on health, partly mediated by their effect on the friendly bacteria in the intestine. Fiber may also help improve satiety and cause weight loss, while lowering blood sugar levels and improving the function of the digestive system.

Vitamins and minerals:

Apples contain many vitamins and minerals, but not in high amounts. However, apples are usually a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a common antioxidant in fruits. It is an essential dietary nutrient that has many important functions in the body.

Phytonutrients in apples:

Phytonutrients are substances found in plant foods, known to have biological effects. In addition to the vitamins and minerals, apples are high in phytonutrients, which are responsible for some of the beneficial effects on health.

Quercetin:

A nutrient found in some plant foods, shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animal studies.

Catechin:

A natural antioxidant, also found in large amounts in green tea. Shown to improve brain and muscle function in animal studies.

Chlorogenic Acid:

Also found in coffee, chlorogenic acid has been shown to lower blood sugar and cause weight loss in some studies. There are two properties of apples that make them a weight loss friendly food. They are high in fiber and low in energy density.

Both of these have been shown to lead to reduced calorie intake and significant weight loss in the long-term. In one study, women who were instructed to eat 300 grams of apples (10.6 ounces or 1.5 large apples) per day lost 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg) over a period of 12 weeks. For this reason, eating apples may be a useful addition to a weight loss diet, especially if eaten between or before meals.

Health Benefits of Apples:

Given the immense popularity of apples, especially among health conscious people, it is not surprising to see that they have been studied quite thoroughly

Blood Sugar Control and Type 2 Diabetes:

There is some evidence that eating apples can help lower blood sugar levels and protect against diabetes. This makes sense given the fiber content, but apples (probably because of the fiber) have been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels. Some of the antioxidants in apples also appear to be able to slow down digestion of sugars, so that they get absorbed slower. In one study of 38,018 women, eating 1 or more apples per day was linked to a 28% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Blood Cholesterol and Heart Disease:

Several studies have looked at the effect of apples on risk factors for heart disease. One of the studies, done in hamsters, showed that apples can reduce total cholesterol levels and lead to drastic reductions (48%) in plaque buildup inside the arteries. If these animal studies were to apply to humans, it would mean that apples could be highly useful in helping to prevent cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes). One study in Finland showed that the risk of dying from heart disease was 43% lower in women, and 19% lower in men, for those who consumed more than 54 grams (1.9 ounces) of apples per day.

Cancer:

Numerous studies in test tubes have shown that apples, apple juice, or some of the phytonutrients in apples, can have anti-cancer effects. There have also been some animal studies showing that apple phytonutrients can protect against cancers of the lungs and colon.

In a study titled “Does an apple a day keep the oncologist away?“, those who consumed 1 or more apples per day were at a lower risk of getting cancer, including a 20% lower risk of colorectal cancer and 18% lower risk of breast cancer.

Potential Adverse Effects:

Apples are generally well tolerated. However, they may cause problems for people with irritable bowel syndrome as apples contain FODMAPs, carbohydrates that are known to upset the digestive system. Apples also contain fructose, which can be problematic for people with fructose intolerance.

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