Apple is probably one of the most popular fruits in the world. It is widely cultivated in temperate regions of the planet and widely imported by countries where it doesn’t grow. It is known as the “forbidden fruit” in the biblical Garden of Eden that had caused the fall of man. It has been one of the most favorite fruits of man for thousands of years having archaeological records of consumption as early as 6500 B.C. It is an important fruit in Germanic paganism, Norse mythology, and Greek mythology.
Apple, Malus domestica, is a member of the Rosaceae or Rose family in which apricots, cherries, plums, peaches, raspberries, pears, and almonds belong. It originated in Western Asia where present day countries like Turkey and Iran are found. There are about 7,500 known cultivars or varieties of apple. This large number of cultivars is a result of thousands of years of natural and artificial breeding. Apple cultivation is a huge industry with an annual value of $10 billion worldwide.
I know that you have heard, “An apple a day will keep the doctor away.” This single line quote makes apple a popular fruit to people as young as preschoolers. While you certainly need to take more than a daily apple to keep you healthy, it is a step in the right direction. Apple is not only one of the most delicious fruits in the planet but also one of the most nutritious. Within the shiny skin and the juicy pulp of apple are hundreds of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial to our body. Continue reading to learn the different nutritional benefits of apple.
Apple Health Benefits
Apple is simply Rich in Polyphenols
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found in fruits like apples. Among the polyphenols found in apples include quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, chlorogenic acid, catechin, and anthocyanin. These compounds are found both in the skin and pulp of apple in different concentrations.
Studies show that apple polyphenols protect photosynthetic cells from UV-B radiation. By absorbing the radiation, polyphenols prevent damage to the cells which absorb light energy for photosynthesis. When we ingest these polyphenols, they protect our cells from damage caused by harmful compounds.
Apple Contains Powerful Antioxidants
Polyphenols are nature’s most powerful antioxidants, substances that inhibit the destructive effect of oxidation. Antioxidants have many important roles in our body including the prevention of heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
As antioxidants, apple polyphenols inhibit the oxidation of cell membrane fats (lipid perodixation). Fat oxidation is the primary risk factor for clogging of arteries causing heart attack and stroke.
Apple polyphenols can also help prevent cancer as they destroy carcinogens such as free radicals. These free radicals are highly reactive atoms with unpaired electrons. They cause damage to cell structures including the DNA, the cell’s genetic material. DNA damage leads to the development of cancer in different parts of our body such as the lungs, colon, and breasts.
In addition to polyphenols, apple also contains Vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant that helps our body fight cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and other types of diseases.
Apple Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Level
Polyphenols in apple help regulate our blood sugar level in many different ways. One way is slowing carbohydrate digestion by blocking carbohydrate-digesting enzymes such as alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. When these enzymes are inhibited, carbohydrates are broken down slowly into simple sugars, and fewer loads are placed on our bloodstream to accommodate more sugars.
Another way is reduction of glucose absorption in our intestines. Again, this will lessen the sugar load to our bloodstream.
Polyphenols stimulate our pancreas to release more insulin, the substance that signals our body cells to absorb sugar from our bloodstream. The direct result of having more insulin in our circulation is faster clearance of sugar from our blood. As a result, our blood sugar level is kept in better balance.
Besides from stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin, polyphenols also stimulate more insulin receptors in cell membranes to bind insulin. Binding of insulin to insulin receptors will initiate a biochemical cascade leading to passage of sugars toward the inside of cells.
Eating apple can help diabetics regulate their blood sugar as the polyphenols found in it stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin and stimulate insulin receptors to bind more insulin for increased sugar absorption.
Apple’s Anti-Asthma Benefits
Some studies show that apple consumption is associated to decreased risk of asthma. When consumed with other fruits and vegetables, apple becomes more effective against asthma. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in apple are believed to be the anti-asthma compounds. Nevertheless, more studies are needed to investigate how apple consumption is able to reduce the risk of developing asthma.
Eating Apple Alters Bacterial Composition in the Colon
Studies in laboratory animals show that apple significantly alters the amounts of certain bacterial species such as Bacteriodes and Clostridiales. This alteration in bacterial composition seems to have health benefits like the modification of metabolism in the colon. After apple intake, more fuel becomes available to the cells of the colon. If colon cells are more energized, they perform their roles effectively. Since the studies were done in animals, human studies should be done to find out if apple has the same effect to human intestinal bacteria.
Apple as a Source of Dietary Fibers
Apple contains pectin, a fat-soluble fiber. About 2 to 3 grams of pectin is contained in 3.5 ounces of apple and 50% of apple’s total fiber content is pectin. Studies show that pectin has fat-lowering effects in our body. By reducing fat levels in blood, fibers help our body prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Apple fibers also aid in digestion and help prevent a variety of gastrointestinal diseases.
Apple Provides Vitamins and Minerals
Eating apple supplies our body its needed vitamins such as Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, and Vitamin C. We also get essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Our body needs these vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and strong. Deficiency with any of these vitamins and minerals results to a variety of disorders.[ad#afterpost]