Raw. Paired with cheddar. Topped with peanut butter. Sliced thinly on a sandwich. These are just a few of the many ways we can enjoy apples.
Apples have been a part of our lexicon dating back to the beginning of time. We’re sure you’ve heard (and even said) some of the more popular phrases:
- “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”
- “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”
- “As American as apple pie”
So, we’ve established that these delicious fruits can be enjoyed a hundred different ways and that they’re an integral part of culture, but let’s dig a little deeper and examine what’s really great about apples. Namely, why they’re considered a “superfood.”
Apples offer a significant source of phytochemicals, which are non-nutrient plant compounds found in certain fruits, veggies, and grains. Phytochemicals have health benefits, particularly when it comes to the reduction of chronic diseases. A common type of phytochemical is called a flavonoid. In the US and Europe, a significant portion of our flavonoid consumption is via apples.
According to USDA research, in 2019, Americans consumed around 25 pounds of apples per person. However, only about 10 pounds of this consumption was actually fresh apples, with the rest being apple-containing products such as applesauce, apple cider, and apple juice. In case you were wondering, in order to receive optimal nutrients from an apple, it’s best to consume it fresh, with the skin on.
Let’s take a look at some of the studies conducted with regards to the nutritional benefits of apples:
- A Finnish study involving 10,000 men and women saw a decreased risk of lung cancer in those who regularly consumed flavonoids (most frequently, these were consumed via apples and onions)
- A Women’s Health study that surveyed 40,000 women found women who ingested the highest amounts of flavonoids had a 35% reduction in risk of cardiovascular events
- In a study from the Netherlands of over 13,000 people, apple and pear consumption were positively associated with pulmonary function
So, what does a single apple contain?
- At least 5 grams of fiber, which can help you feel full and stabilize your blood sugar
- Around 10% of your daily value of Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that’s important for cardiovascular health
- Around 20 grams of carbs, which your body uses as fuel
- About 5% of your daily value of potassium, which is necessary for the normal function of cells, but is unfortunately lacking in most American diets
What does all of this mean?
Apples are rich in nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Though “an apple a day” may not actually keep the doctor away, it will certainly contribute to your long term health and can make a difference in the prevention of several chronic diseases. Since there are so many different kinds of apples and so many ways to enjoy them, it’s relatively easy to work these superfruits into a balanced diet.