The U.S. Apple Association just provided this useful reminder of how amazing apples are to your health. Remember, opt for organic apples because of the high pesticide content found in non-organic apples. As an apple grower myself, it’s a challenge growing organic, but it’s by far the best for you–especially if you eat the skin, which has the highest levels of pesticide toxicity.
1. Brain Health
Researchers from Cornell University found that apple nutrients protected brain neurons against oxidative damage. Such damage can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The study highlighted the antioxidant quercetin as a principle compound responsible for the protective effect (Journal of Food Science, 2004, 69: S357-S360).
2. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
A University of Massachusetts-Lowell clinical trial showed that drinking apple juice significantly improved mood and behavior among a group of patients diagnosed with moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease. Cornell University research also suggests that quercetin may be the compound in apples that protects brain cells against oxidative stress associated with Alzheimer’s.
3. Heart Health
An Ohio State University study recently found that eating an apple a day for four weeks lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL, the bad cholesterol, by 40 percent. A University of Florida study found eating two apples a day reduced LDL by 23%.
4. Respiratory System
A National Institutes of Health study reports that foods rich in fiber and flavonoids, found abundantly in apples, may reduce chronic productive cough and other respiratory symptoms (Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med, 2004, 170: 279-287).
Research from the United Kingdom reports children of mothers who eat apples during pregnancy are much less likely to exhibit symptoms of asthma at age five. Apples were the only food found to have a positive association with a reduced risk of asthma among a variety of foods consumed and recorded (Thorax, 2007, 62:745-746).
6. Digestive Health
University of Denmark researchers discovered apples and apple products could boost intestinal health by increasing the numbers of good gut bacteria. The friendly bacteria in the intestines feed on apple pectin, a fiber found abundantly in apples (BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:13).
7. Bone Health
A study published in the November 2010 online edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that older women who eat plenty of fruits, including apples and apple products, along with vegetables and whole grains, may have a lower chance of bone fractures than those not getting their fill.
8. Muscle Strength
A natural compound found in the apple’s skin, called ursolic acid, may help prevent muscle wasting that can result from aging and illness (Cell Metabolism, 2011, 13 (6): 627-638).
9. Weight Management or Weight Loss
State University of Rio de Janeiro researchers studying the impact of fruit intake on weight loss found that overweight women who ate the equivalent of three apples a day lost more weight on a low-calorie diet than women who didn’t eat the fiber-rich fruit (Nutrition, 2003, 19: 253-256).
10. Metabolic Syndrome
Adults who consume apples, apple juice and apple sauce are likely to have lower blood pressure and trimmer waistlines, resulting in a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health problems related to diabetes and heart disease (Experimental Biology 2008 Poster (unpublished)).
11. Immune System
Soluble fiber, like apple pectin, may reduce the inflammation associated with obesity-related diseases and strengthen the immune system, according to a University of Illinois study (Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2010, in press/available online).
12. Certain types of Cancer, like Breast, Pancreatic, Colon or Liver, Prostate, and Colorectal
Apples are rich in antioxidants, especially quercetin, which have been identified to help inhibit cancer onset and cell proliferation. In one study, the more apples per day individuals ate, the less likely they were to develop colorectal cancer. The anti-cancer effect was seen even when an individual had a low total consumption of fruits and vegetables but consumed at least an apple a day (European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 2010, 19(1):42-47).