What are apples?
Cheap and readily available in the UK, apples come in an array of colours depending on the variety (of which there are around 2,000) from pale yellow and green through to deep red. Their taste and texture vary too, from juicy to firm and sweet to tangy. Due to the large variety available, you can buy British apples pretty much all year round, but traditionally apples are in season in the UK from September to February.
Nutritional benefits of apples
One medium apple contains approximately:
- 51 kcal/215 KJ
- 6g protein
- 5g fat
- 6g carbohydrates
- 2g fibre
- 100mg potassium
- 6mg vit C
What are the 5 top health benefits of apples?
1. May lower cholesterol
Apples contain pectin, a natural fibre found in plants. Recent research by the European Journal of Nutrition found that eating pectin-rich whole apples had a cholesterol-lowering effect in healthy volunteers, compared to apple juice. A study by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also showed that consuming around 75g of dried apple (approximately two apples) helped to reduce cholesterol in postmenopausal women.
2. May protect against diabetes
Apples are low on the glycaemic index (GI) thanks to their fibre content. This, together with their high flavonoid content, may help to improve insulin sensitivity, which is important both for weight management and preventing diabetes.
3. May prevent obesity
Animal studies have shown that pectin extracted from apples may help regulate the gut microbiome (beneficial gut bacteria), which in turn may help prevent obesity and other inflammatory disorders. Studies on humans also look promising, but more research is needed.
4. May protect against heart disease
Apples are rich in polyphenols, protective plant compounds, one of which is a flavonoid called quercetin. Research by the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition found that those with higher quercetin levels (mainly through eating apples) had a lower risk of several chronic diseases including heart disease and even asthma.
5. May be beneficial for bone health
Fruit and vegetable intake are thought to be associated with greater bone density and improved bone health. Findings from a study on healthy women suggested apples, in particular, may minimise the amount of calcium lost from the body and hence improve bone strength.
Is it safe for everyone to eat apples?
Apples, along with fruits including peaches, avocados and blueberries contain natural chemicals called salicylates. Some people are sensitive to these compounds and may experience an allergic reaction, including skin rash and swelling.
This article was reviewed on 10 February 2021 by Kerry Torrens.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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