Health Benefits of Apples

You’ve probably heard the age-old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Although eating apples isn’t a cure-all, it can do wonders for your health.

Apples are crunchy, bright-colored, and one of the most popular fruits in the United States.

European settlers brought apples with them to the Americas. They enjoyed them more than North America’s native crabapple, a small, tarter fruit.

Many types of apples grow in the U.S., but a small percentage of ones you can buy in grocery stores are imported. Each one has a different shape, color, and texture.

An apple can taste sweet or sour, and its flavor can vary depending on what type you’re eating.

There are many varieties, including:

  • Red Delicious
  • McIntosh
  • Crispin
  • Gala
  • Granny Smith
  • Fuji
  • Honeycrisp

Nutritional Benefits

Apples are low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol. They don’t offer protein, but apples are a good source of vitamin C and fiber.

One medium apple has about:

  • 100 calories
  • 25 grams of carbohydrates
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 19 grams of sugar
  • A variety of strong antioxidants

Health Benefits

Apples can do a lot for you, thanks to plant chemicals called flavonoids. And they have pectin, a fiber that breaks down in your gut. If you take off the apple’s skin before eating it, you won’t get as much of the fiber or flavonoids.

The fiber can slow digestion so you feel fuller after eating. This can keep you from overeating. Eating fiber-rich foods helps control symptoms and lessens the effects of acid reflux. An apple’s fiber can also help with diarrhea and constipation.

Some studies show that plant chemicals and the fiber in an apple peel protect against blood vessel and heart damage. They also can help lower your cholesterol, and they might protect your cells’ DNA from something called oxidative damage, which is one of the things that can lead to cancer.

Research shows the antioxidants in apples can slow the growth of cancer cells. And they can protect the cells in your pancreas, which can lower your chances of type 2 diabetes.

Scientists also give apples credit for helping:

You don’t need to be concerned about the sugar in apples. Although they have carbs that affect your blood sugar, these carbs are different from other sugars that strip away fiber that’s good for you.

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Risks

Although apples do have health benefits, eating too many of them (like anything) can be bad for you. Too much fruit can cause you to gain weight.

There are a few others things to keep in mind:

Pesticides. Apples are one of the fruits that have high pesticide residues because bugs and disease are more likely to affect them. It’s always best to wash fruit like apples before you eat them.

Seeds. You might’ve also heard that eating apple seeds or the core is bad for you. The seeds do have chemicals that turn into cyanide in your body, but you would have to crush and eat many seeds for them to harm you. In fact, an average adult would have to eat at least 150 crushed seeds for a risk of cyanide poisoning. The seeds are actually rich in protein and fiber.

Interactions. Apple juice can interact with the allergy drug fexofenadine (Allegra). The juice makes the medicine hard for your body to absorb.

What to Look For

When you’re buying apples, make sure they feel firm and heavy. The skin shouldn’t have any bruises, cuts, or soft spots.

Make sure to store apples in your refrigerator to keep them fresh longer. They can also be stored at room temperature, but they will ripen much faster.

It’s also important to leave the skin on because it has more than half of the apple's fiber.

Varieties that are best for baking are usually tart and slightly sweet, including:

  • Granny Smith
  • Honeycrisp
  • Melrose
  • Braeburn

Juicy, sweet types are best if you’d rather eat your apple raw. These include:

  • Red Delicious
  • Gala
  • Fuji
  • McIntosh

You can enjoy your apple in many different ways, including:

  • As slices
  • Baked into apple chips
  • In salads
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on July 02, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service: “Apples and oranges are America’s top fruit choices,” “Apples, raw, with skin,” “Household USDA Foods Fact Sheet: Apples, fresh.”

U.S. Apple Association: “History and Folklore,” “Apple Industry At-a-Glance,” “Popular Varieties,” “Apple Health Benefits.”

Nutrition Journal: “Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits.”

Harvard School of Public Health: “Apples.”

Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging: “Apple juice prevents oxidative stress and impaired cognitive performance caused by genetic and dietary deficiencies in mice.”

Advances in Nutrition: “A Comprehensive Review of Apples and Apple Components and Their Relationship to Human Health.”

Molecules: “Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response.”

Nutrients: “Nutritional and Health-Related Effects of a Diet Containing Apple Seed Meal in Rats: The Case of Amygdalin,” “Effects of Commercial Apple Varieties on Human Gut Microbiota Composition and Metabolic Output Using an In Vitro Colonic Model.”

Britannica: “Can Apple Seeds Kill You?”

World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Fiber-enriched diet helps to control symptoms and improves esophageal motility in patients with non-erosive gastroesophageal reflux disease.”

International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: “Diet Changes for GERD.”

American Diabetes Association: “Fruits.”

Ohio State University: “Grapefruit affects more medications.”

Daily Med: “FEXOFENADINE HCL- fexofenadine hcl tablet.”

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