Top 5 reasons to eat apples

ee-applesAt this time of year, the crunch of a freshly-harvested apple is a real taste treat. But according to science, there’s much more than just palate pleasing aspects to consider. There appears to be true wisdom in the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

Here’s a taste of some of the research investigating the health benefits of apples:

•    Apples may protect against type 2 diabetes

In a recently published study, Harvard University scientists  assessed the effect of different types of fruits and their association with the development of type 2 diabetes in three different groups of health professionals.  The research, which involved almost 190,000 subjects over a period of about 20 years, found that a greater consumption of apples, blueberries and grapes were linked to a lower risk of developing the disease. Fruit juices, on the other hand, went hand in hand with a greater likelihood.

Other research has followed the same trend.

•    Apples are chock full of heart healthy antioxidants

Apples offer a rich array of  antioxidant substances called polyphenols. Flavonoids are one kind of polyphenol found in apples that act as antioxidants.  Red wine, chocolate and tea are also members of the flavonoid-rich family that have received much attention.

If you’re interested in affairs of the heart, consider apples for your menu as well.  They’ve received scientific accolades for their heart healthy perks for almost two decades as evidence for the fruit’s flavonoids role in protecting against heart disease has accumulated. These compounds, as they’re powerful in their antioxidant action, can help to protect blood cholesterol from being oxidized (oxidized cholesterol is more easily deposited in arteries).

•    Apples may lower the odds of having a stroke

In a Swedish study,  scientists followed almost 75,000 healthy men and women  for a decade  and  found that those who ate  the most fruit and vegetables were less likely to suffer a stroke.  Apples and pears along with dark, leafy greens were the highest on the list of the most protective produce.

•    Apples’ fibre offer some surprising health perks

Apples are particularly rich in soluble fibre, the kind that’s known for its blood cholesterol lowering power. Research also shows that soluble fibre provides anti-inflammatory action as well as perks for the immune system.  Inflammation is thought to be a major contributor to a host of diseases including heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes.

•    Apples supply  anti-cancer weaponry

Apples and their cancer fighting effects have been the centre of much research.
In a Polish study,  published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, researchers looked at the effect of regular apple consumption on colon cancer risk in people whose intake of fruits and vegetables was low and found that having an apple a day reduced their odds of developing this type of cancer significantly.

As much of the apple’s cancer-fighting ability is found in the peel, don’t pitch it when you’re munching on an apple. The peel is also likely MIA if you have applesauce or juice.

A University of Wisconsin study looked at apple peels and noted that they are potent in halting the growth of a number of cancers including different types of prostate and breast cancer. Other research shows that apple’s flavonoids also fight lung cancer.

Maybe the saying should be changed to “at least an apple a day. …” But that’s not to say that you should give up going for a variety of other nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.

Next up: Not all apples are created equal

Are you an apple eater? What kind of apples do you prefer?

Enjoy this delicious but simple apple dessert along with a few tips

Another post you might like:

ee-applesAn easy-to-make baked apple dessert that’s yummy enough for company

Enjoy this delicious but simple apple dessert along with a few tips …. read more

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Categories: Research Roundup

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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