A Fruit in Season: Health Benefits of Apples
Apples are cultivated worldwide
Fall is the season for apples. While some might skip this traditional go-to fruit for “keeping the doctor away” in favor of trendier superfoods such as açai, goji berry or purple kale, it really doesn’t get much better than biting into a juicy-sweet Honeycrisp or tangy Granny Smith apple.
Apples are Rich in Antioxidants
As the name implies, antioxidants prevent cell oxidization, which damages cells, promotes premature aging and makes us prone to illness. On the other hand, antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Apples, it turns out, are just as high in those miraculous molecules as fancier, newer import fruits.
Specifically, apples pack a type of anti-viral and anti-inflammatory antioxidant called flavonol (not to be confused with flavanol found in dark chocolate). As to anti-viral, think flu season. What about anti-inflammatory benefits? Inflammation in the body makes us more likely to get ill; it can be caused by stress, poor diet including too much caffeine and even soda. Consuming apples reduces inflammation, making your body more alkaline.
Apples Fight Cancer
To break it down even further, the type of super flavonol found in apples contains quercetin. It can fight a variety of serious diseases including cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Quercetin basically scavenges the body for free radicals. From apples you get a whopping 440 mg/kg as compared to 158 mg/kg from leafy greens or just under 100 mg/kg from berries.
Apples are Fiber Champs
Apples are also high in fiber, packing four grams per medium fruit. This particular fiber is called pectin, which acts as a thickening agent in the gut. That’s why in many cultures, apples are traditionally served to treat diarrhea.
Fiber is crucial for many reasons, from lowering cholesterol, preventing plaque from clogging your arteries and stabilizing blood sugar levels to fighting type two diabetes to preventing cancer. In addition to fiber, apples are a good source of vitamin C, a variety of B vitamins, beta carotene and some minerals such as calcium and potassium. Plus, a medium fruit has only about 100 calories.
An Apple A Day
The best way to enjoy the many health benefits of apples is to eat them in their raw state, skin and all. As such, make sure to buy organic apples whenever possible to avoid ingesting any pesticides or chemical residues. Even when you buy organic fruit, it’s a good idea to wash the skin with cold water and “scrub” it down just like you would when washing dishes.
When it comes to apples, even if you bake them in a pie or turn them into apple sauce, you’ll still reap some health benefits from this classic fruit. After all, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”