(Along with their “Sidekicks:” Pears, Bananas, and Pineapple)
A source of:
- Vitamin C
Apples are a SuperFood as well as the inspiration for a superactivity—apple picking—something the whole family can enjoy. Apples deserve their popularity, and research demonstrates that it’s time to recognize them as a SuperFood. A number of studies have shown that apple consumption is associated with reduced risk for a number of diseases, including cancer, particularly lung cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, asthma, and type II diabetes. If you take a look at the power of apples to prevent disease, you’ll never take them for granted again.
An apple a day is perhaps one of the most delicious and efficient prescriptions ever made. Apples have proven themselves to be potent weapons against cancer, heart disease, asthma, and type II diabetes compared with other fruits and vegetables, according to a recent major review study. The reasons for apples’ potent health benefits are varied and synergistic. For one thing, apples are a rich and important source of phytochemicals, including flavonoids and other phenols. In the United States, 22 percent of the phenolics (a class of polyphenols) consumed from fruits are from apples, making them the largest source of phenols in the American diet. Apples also contain two polyphenols—phloridzin and phloretin xyloglucoside—which to date have not been detected in any other fruits. Not only are apples particularly rich in phenols, they also have the highest concentration of “free phenols.” These are phenols that seem to be more available for absorption into the bloodstream.
Apples are also filled with super antioxidants. The antioxidant activity of approximately one apple is equivalent to about 1,500 mg of vitamin C, even though the amount of vitamin C in one apple is only about 5.7 mg. And, by the way, apples with peels have a far greater antioxidant capacity than those with the peel removed.
- Eat a wide variety of apples. Different apple varieties have different skin colors, meaning the phytonutrient content of the skin varies in concentration and type of polyphenols.
One of the flavonoids found in apples, quercetin, seems to play a protective role against chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. Quercetin is a plant pigment that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may be helpful in preventing the oxidation of bad cholesterol and in inhibiting cancerous changes to cells. Studies have suggested that people with the highest intakes of quercetin may have a reduced risk for heart disease and lung cancer.
- Apples can help you lose weight. Soluble fruit fiber has been shown to be inversely associated with long-term weight gain, and in one study, the daily consumption of either three apples or three pears was associated with weight loss in overweight women.
Apples and Your Heart
Regular apple consumption seems to be a delightful way to protect yourself from heart disease. The fiber in apples—both soluble and insoluble—helps to reduce cholesterol levels, thus promoting heart and circulatory health. Apples are also useful in preventing cardiovascular problems.
Apples and Cancer
Apples have proven themselves to be potent cancer fighters. In the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, fruit and vegetables intake was associated with a 21 percent reduced risk of lung cancer in women. Subjects who consumed at least one serving per day of apples and pears had a reduced risk of lung cancer.
Apples and Lung Health
In addition to all the ways that apples boost your heart health, they’re beneficial to lung function. Apple consumption has been inversely linked with asthma and has also been positively associated with general pulmonary health.
Apples and Diabetes
Not only may apples help decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, and asthma, but apple consumption may also be associated with a lower risk for diabetes. In a study of ten thousand Finnish people, a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes was associated with apple consumption. A higher intake of quercetin, a major component of apple peels, was also associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
*This brief summary contains copyrighted material from SuperFoods HealthStyle by Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews. Copyright © 2006 by Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews Inc., published by HarperCollins; and from SuperFoods Rx For Pregnancy by Steven Pratt, M.D. Copyright © 2013 by SuperFoods Partners, LLC, published by Wiley. All rights reserved.