Eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away: fact or fiction?
I really don’t know about you but I really believe in an apple a day when not used literally. It maintains the fact that eating fruits regularly promotes good health and keep you sickness free.
But could this rounded fruit honestly promote and help you maintain extremely good health? Let’s find out.
This fruit can in fact reduce your visit to the doctor because it is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber but low in calories and sodium. Apples are sweet, juicy, and have a buttery flavor when chewed.
Apples are cheap, versatile, and available year-round. The original phrase was “eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread”. This first phrase was published in a magazine in Wales during the 19th century.
Over the next century, the phrased evolved to “an apple a day, the doctor away”. While it seemed like all the phrases were rhyming, was fun to say, they all still placed emphasis on the myriad health benefit of apple.
Then in 1922, another phrase which is the one we so much love and use today was documented. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
While most research shows that eating more apples regularly may not guarantee fewer visits to the doctor, incorporating apples into a healthy diet can boost several aspects of your health.
Apples can be enjoyed in a variety of ways- as an accompaniment to salads, juice, smoothies, pies, as a flavor, and even a hydrating snack. This article explains how just one phrase can truly keep your doctor away.
Nutritional value of apple
Apples are loaded with vital nutrients including fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants essential for promoting overall health.
While apples are really low in fat, carbs, and proteins, they contain beneficial plant compounds- phytochemicals and antioxidants-polyphenols.
This fresh crunchy fruit also contains calcium, iron, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium in small amounts. Apples are water-rich, high in fiber, and energy-dense- all of which can promote satiety.
According to the USDA, one medium apple provides the following nutrients:
- 95 calories
- 25grams carbs
- 5gram protein
- 3gram fat
- 19grams sugar
- 4gram fiber
- 194mg potassium:5% of the DV
- Vitamin A:1% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 5% of the DV
- Magnesium: 2% of the DV
Apples contain pectin and quercetin. Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that may aid digestion, while quercetin is a flavonoid that has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The flesh of apple contains small amounts of catechin, phloridzin, epicatechin, and procyanidin with chlorogenic acid in large amount.
Consuming apples without the peel has less antioxidant capacity than apples with the peel. However, most people discard the peel because of harmful deposits of pesticides on it. To get rid of pesticides on apples and ensure you consume the whole fruit:
- Purchase only organic apple fruit
- Rather than using detergents or soap, use a clean food-grade brush and clean water to brush the surface of the fruit.
- Baking soda is also a great option. Combine 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 2 cups of water to make a baking soda solution. Soak the apple in the solution for 10-15 minutes. Rinse properly and dry the fruit with a clean towel.
Health benefits of apple
This juicy and crunchy fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that promote and maintain good health. This fruit may prevent the risk of certain health complications such as age-related sicknesses, cancer, heart disease, hair breakage, and skin disorders.
Consuming them regularly in the right amount will also reduce some side effects. The benefit of eating apples includes:
- Protect The Heart:
Apples can reduce the risk of heart disease and other heart-related conditions. Apple contains antioxidant properties that reduce fat oxidation known as lipid peroxidation.
Lipid peroxidation is a process whereby free radicals (bad guys) attack lipids by stealing vital electrons in cell membranes. This is extremely bad for the health and can result in tissue damage.
Therefore, the antioxidant compounds present in apples can reduce lipid peroxidation and prevent cell and DNA damage.
The flavonoid and quercetin in apples have been shown to reduce inflammation while polyphenol, epicatechin reduces blood pressure- all of which can boost the heart and further prevent the occurrence of heart disease.
Apple is a fiber-rich food that can help reduce the risk factor for heart diseases such as blood pressure and high cholesterol level- and this is a strong defensive mechanism against heart disease.
- Improving Dental Health:
It may surprise you to know that eating apples can help cleanse your teeth and gums. While they do not make your teeth sparkling white, their fiber content and antioxidant properties can keep viruses and bacteria at bay.
Also, eating apples do not guarantee the reduction of dental cavities. It only guarantees a reduction in the multiplication of bacteria growth according to studies. Chewing on fibrous fruits such as apples can increase the secretion of saliva and reduce cavities.
- Lowering the Risk of Cancer:
Animal studies show that apples contain antioxidant properties that can inhibit breast cancer cells.
The peel of apples has stronger antioxidant activity than the flesh. And these antioxidants fight free radicals that cause cell damage and DNA damage.
According to a study done on rats, it was found that tumor incidence was reduced by 17, 39, and 44% when they ate the human equivalent of one, three, or six apples a day for 24 weeks. Regular consumption of apples may help reduce the risk of lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
- Aid Weight Loss:
Apples are filled with fiber and water which can increase satiety levels, reduce portion size, and reduce appetite too.
According to a study, consuming fiber-rich foods such as apples can reduce weight gain. Low-energy-dense fruits are associated with reduced appetite and prevention of weight gain.
Apples contain low glycemic index and cause lesser spikes in blood sugar levels. This is associated with weight loss.
- Boost Neurological Health:
Consuming apples regularly can boost the brain and improve memory. According to a study done on rat brain cells by Cornell University, it was found that the powerful and abundant antioxidant in apples protects the brain cells against oxidative stress.
Alzheimer’s disease is majorly linked to oxidative stress and some other neurodegenerative disorders. Reducing oxidative stress can help prevent the occurrence of such disorders.
According to another study done by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, apples consumed regularly can increase the production of acetylcholine in the brain.
Increased production of acetylcholine in the brain results in improved memory, coordination, concentration, and problem-solving.
- Relieve Symptoms of Asthma:
Apple contains flavonoids such as quercetin that can help reduce inflammation and boost immunity, making it a strong defensive mechanism against asthma and other respiratory disorders.
Studies show that increasing your consumption of apples may be linked to a lower risk of asthma.
Potential downsides of eating apples
Eating an apple every day may necessarily not harm your health. But as we all know, too much of everything can be bad.
It is possible to have too much of apples, especially when you consume more than three each day. Apples contain fiber and increasing your fiber intake over a short period of time can cause symptoms such as bloating, gas, and stomach pain.
Considering fiber intake, it is best to eat 2-3 small-sized apples or a medium-large sized apple a day. Apples can cause side effects. For instance, consumption of its seeds, an allergy to apples, medication interference, and pregnancy can cause side effects. The seeds of apples contain cyanide and are therefore poisonous, hence they should not be consumed alongside the skin and flesh.
While pregnancy and drug interactions have not been well-studied, consult your doctor before adding apple into your diet.
Best ways to eat apples
There are thousands of products in the market with apple as the key ingredient or containing just some percentage of synthetic apple flavor.
In regards to real apple-based products, there is a wide range of variety to choose from- from eating the main fruit to apple juice, apple pies, apple caramel, apple slices, apple ice-cream, apple chips, and apple sauces.
However, the only way you can reap the benefit of apple is by eating fresh, whole fruits- all of it including the skin and excluding the seeds. Whole fruits have powerful antioxidants, greater nutrients, and little or no contamination.
Other healthy options
Apples are popular and very nutritious. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, apples can be easily added to your diet and can offer several health benefits.
However, there are several other fruits and vegetables that offer similar nutrients to your body and can equally promote health. Besides, eating different fruit varieties can add more flavor and balance your nutrient intake.
While consuming apple is good for you, eating other healthy fruits can boost your health more.
Below is a list of healthy fruits and vegetables you can munch on from time to time when giving apple a break:
Consumption of apples may literally not be associated with lesser visits to your doctor. Apples are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, and other vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that can reduce the risk of diseases and promote long-term health. While there are benefits tied to eating apples, there are potential downsides too. It is best to consult your doctor or nutritionist before adding apple to your diet.