The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Integrating Apples into Your Diet

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Although it may not necessarily amount to fewer visits to the doctor, adding apples to your diet can help improve several aspects of your health.

Apples are mainly composed of carbs and water. They are loaded with important nutrients and benefits of plant based diets, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Apples are also low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol.

Nutritional and Health Benefits of Apples

One medium apple provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 95
  • Carbs: 25 grams
  • Fiber: 4.5 grams
  • Vitamin C: 9% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 5% of the DV
  • Potassium: 4% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 3% of the DV

Apples are rich in plant chemicals called flavonoids and they have pectin, a fiber that breaks down in your gut. If you peel off the apple’s skin before eating it, you will not get much of the fiber or flavonoids. These fruits are a good source of several antioxidants, including quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic acid. These plant compounds offer many health benefits of plant based diet to the human body.

Support a Healthy Immune System

Apples boast many vitamins and minerals, though not in high amounts. According to research done on animals, a benefit of plant based diet filled with soluble fiber - such as apples – is to convert immune cells from being pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting. 

An apple is a good source of vitamin C, a known antioxidant and immune booster. Vitamin C helps neutralize or reverse damage caused by free radicals in the body. It also increases the production of white blood cells and reduces inflammation.

Diabetes Management

Apples are rich in dietary fiber. Studies show that one benefit of plant based diet rich in dietary fiber is the low risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The soluble fiber in apples can help slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This is because the polyphenols in apples, found primarily in apple skin, stimulate your pancreas to release insulin and help your cells take in sugar.

Supports Heart Health

The main mineral in apples, potassium may benefit heart health and lower the risk of getting a stroke when consumed in high amounts. Potassium helps relax the blood vessels, reducing the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular complications. Pectin-rich whole apples also have a cholesterol-lowering effect.

Research shows that people who consume more apples are less likely to suffer from heart problems all thanks to the flavonoids. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel material. This fiber helps prevent cholesterol buildup in the walls of blood vessels, therefore lowering the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Weight Loss Management

An apple is a weight-loss-friendly food. It possesses high fiber and low calories, which are two benefits of plant based diets responsible for promoting long-term weight loss. In a 12-week study, women were instructed to eat 1.5 large apples per day. This group lost 2.9 pounds over the entire course of the study. Dietary fiber slows digestion and the rise of blood sugar, promoting feelings of fullness, decreasing calorie intake, and aiding in weight loss.

Studies conducted on animals have shown that pectin extracted from apples may help regulate beneficial gut bacteria. This in turn may help prevent obesity and other inflammatory diseases. Studies on humans are promising, but more research is needed.

Reduces the Risk of Certain Cancers

There is no surefire way to prevent cancer. However, research suggests that eating a plant-based diet such as apples could protect against some cancers such as breast, rectal, and stomach cancer. Apples contain several compounds that may help prevent cancer formation, including antioxidants, phenols, and flavonoids that may be responsible for warding off cell damage and preventing tumor cell growth, among other anti-cancer benefits.

Neurological Health

It is speculated that apples and other flavonoid-rich foods may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. A 2020 research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults over 50 years who incorporated only a small amount of flavonoids in their diet were 2-4 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to those who ate more flavonoid-rich foods. However, more research is yet to be done.

Other Health Benefits

The fiber in apples can help neutralize irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. It also helps prevent hemorrhoids and gallstones. Apples also lower the risk of oxidative stress, prevent mental decline, and slow signs of aging.

Bottom Line 

The health benefits of plant based diets are many. A medium serving is enough to give you 2-4% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for manganese, copper, and vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and B6. You can have your apples as snacks or add them to your smoothies. For the greatest benefits, eat the whole fruit - both skin and flesh.