Apples are seemingly a plain-jane, ordinary food. However, when you take a deeper look at the health benefits of apples, you’ll find they are actually extraordinary. In fact, from your heart to your lungs to your digestive tract, apples seem to provide unique support that other foods do not.
What’s more, they are delicious and in-season this time of year.
If you’re looking for a way to use up and save a big apple harvest, look no further than our Homemade Healthy Autumn Applesauce Recipe. It’s full of delicious Autumn flavor and nutrients to boost health heading into colder months.
But take note, while apples are healthy they are too high-carb for a Keto diet. To find ways to include apples and/or get the health benefits while low-carb, continue reading to the bottom of the article.
Phytochemicals are plant components that fight disease and support cellular health. Apples are full of phytochemicals. In fact, apple’s phytochemicals help regulate blood sugar by preventing spikes, inhibiting an over-release in enzymes that breakdown carbs into simple sugars, and reduce glucose absorption into the bloodstream. In addition, phytochemicals help the body fight and prevent diseases such as cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and more. Keep reading for specifics!
Incredibly, apples are a fruit that can improve blood sugars. In one Finnish study of 10,000 people, researchers found a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes with increased apple consumption (1).
Apples contain a health-benefiting compound called quercetin. It’s located in the apple peels. Quercetin is associated with decreased diabetes risk and overall health (2).
In addition to quercetin, fiber plays a big role in apple’s health benefits and blood sugar regulation. The fiber in apples is called pectin, and it goes far beyond any status quo fiber. Human and animal studies have shown that apple-derived pectin improves gut bacteria, inflammation, metabolism, weight gain, and fat accumulation (3).
The inverse association between fruits and vegetables and cancer is well documented. Several studies have specifically linked apple consumption with a reduced risk for cancer, especially lung, breast, and colon cancer.
For example, in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study, which involved over 77,000 women and 47, 000 men, fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 21% reduced risk in lung cancer risk in women (4). Apples were one of the individual fruits associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer in this study.
Another study of over 6000 participants from various regions in Italy found an association between fresh apple intake and reduced risk of cancer (5). One or more servings of apples per day were linked to the following reduction in cancer risk in various sites of the body:
Apples have been long-known for heart health support.
In fact, the Women’s Health Study showed a strong link between flavonoid intake and reduced cardiovascular disease. Apples are a great source of flavonoids and were associated with a 13-22% decrease in cardiovascular disease risk in this study (6).
Other studies have reached similar conclusions. A group of Finnish women consuming >71 g of apple per day experienced a 43% reduction in coronary mortality compared to women who did not eat apples. Men’s risk reduction was 19% for consuming at least 54 grams of apple per day (an average baseball-sized apple is) (7).
An apple can deliver a remarkable boost to your gut’s good bacteria. Remember, these bacteria support digestive health, immune function, hormone balance, and more. They also reduce candida and yeast overgrowth.
In the large intestine, apples alter the amounts and functions of two key strains of gut bacteria, Clostridiales and Bacteriodes. As a result of these bacterial changes, intestinal cells thrive and become healthier.
Apples are a great food for weight loss.
First, they offer a lot of satiety for a small number of calories. At just 60-90 calories each (less than a mini-snack candy bar), they pack in 4-5 grams fiber, a lot of volume, and fluids to keep your stomach satisfied.
Research also confirms it. In a study of 400 women with high cholesterol, apple and pear intake has also been associated with weight loss and lower blood glucose (8).
Interestingly, apple intake is associated with reduced asthma and improve lung function in many studies, but the researchers have had a difficult time identifying the compound responsible for the benefit.
In one study involving 1600 adults in Australia, both apple and pear intake was associated with a decreased risk of asthma and a decrease in bronchial hypersensitivity. However, total fruit and vegetable intake were not associated with asthma risk or severity (9).
Another study of 600 individual with asthma, and 900 without, found that apple and selenium intake was associated with less asthma in adults in the United Kingdom (10). Total fruit and vegetable intake were only weakly associated with asthma, with apples specifically showing benefit with at least 2 apples per week intake.
It’s hypothesized that apples’ flavonoids, working together in a whole-food setting, are responsible for these benefits.
One medium apple is 181 grams weight and 21 grams net carbohydrates. Many studies above show the benefits of apples at far fewer grams, about 30% or 60 grams per day. Therefore, you could include just 1/3 of an apple per day (cut into 6 slices and save the remaining 4) for 7 grams net carbs. Or, add 2 tablespoons homemade applesauce to nut butter for a high-fat, healthy mix.
Alternatively, try Divine Health Organic Red Supremefood. It’s made with apples, beets, fruits, vegetables, and other great ingredients. It contains only 3 grams of net carbs per serving.
It’s hard to overlook the health benefits of apples. An ordinary food with extraordinary nutrients. If you’re looking for a great way to boost health this autumn, try our Healthy Homemade Applesauce or just add an apple a day.