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Health benefits of Apple

Apples belong to the rose family and are classified as a pome fruit. They have a red, yellow or green skin with white inner flesh. These crisp and juicy fruit is available from late summer to early winter, however if they are kept in cold storage or imported from Southern Hemisphere then they are available year round. Depending on the variety apples taste moderately sweet and refreshing to pleasantly tart.

Health and apples

The saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is a fact and its wide health benefits are attributed to the fiber, flavonoids and fructose-translate in to apples.

  1. Apples are an excellent source of fiber. A 5 ounce or 1 medium sized apple (unpeeled) provides 3g fiber that is 10% of daily fiber intake.  They are rich in both soluble as well as insoluble fiber that can lower down the cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke. Both the soluble and insoluble fiber attacks the LDL cholesterol levels. The insoluble fiber acts like bran, attaches with LDL cholesterol and helps it to eliminate from the body, while the soluble pectin reduces the synthesis of LDL cholesterol in the liver. Studies prove that just adding one large apple to diet can lower cholesterol levels up to 8-11% and two large apples by 16%. Along with lowering the LDL cholesterol levels, fiber from apples also eliminates heavy metals like lead and mercury. As both the types of fiber help relieve constipation, they have cancer protective activity, combat bowel irregularity, and prevent diverticulitis and colon cancer. Pectin helps to firm up an excessively lose stool and can also be used to treat diarrhea.  
  2. Flavonoid is a type of pigment that gives apples its color. These pigments are studied extensively and are found to prevent heart diseases. Quercitin is a potent flavonoid found in the skin of apples that has antioxidant properties. It teams up with vitamin C (another good source in apples) and works synergistically to bolster the body’s immune defences. They also decrease the oxidative damage by scavenging the free radicals, thus having a protective effect against cancer and heart diseases. A research shows that a total antioxidant activity of a 100g unpeeled apple is equivalent to 1500 mg of vitamin C.
  3. The main source for sweetness in apples is fructose, which is broken down slowly compared to glucose and along with high fiber helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.
  4. Phenols are the special antioxidant compounds in apples that may assist in prevention of number of chronic diseases. These phenols in the skin may provide hefty dose of UV-B protection or sun protection.
  5.  The pesticide residue found in apples even in minute amounts can have a negative impact on health. Organic apples may be a healthier option in that case.
Submitted on February 24, 2009