By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
It seems like every other week headlines tout some new superfood supposedly endowed with miraculous healing powers. Blueberries make you smarter; pomegranate protects against cancer; açai berries keep you young.
But there’s one food that really CAN make you healthier from your head to your toes—and it’s one as old as time. It also happens to be one of my favorites.
If you haven’t guessed, it’s the lowly apple. Packed with phytonutrients like quercetin, pectin, fiber and vitamin C, apples have always been linked to good health. In Norse mythology, apples were even said to keep people young forever. I won’t go that far, but here’s a brief rundown of why you should eat at least one apple every day:
Your Brain. Researchers from Cornell University found that the quercetin in apples protected brain neurons against the oxidative damage that contributes to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.1
Your Heart. Trading in your morning OJ for a glass of apple juice may ward off atherosclerosis thanks to its ability to fight inflammation. Apples can also lower total cholesterol, fibrinogen and triglycerides while giving HDL (good) cholesterol a boost.2
Your Digestive Tract. Apples are a rich source of pectin, a type of fiber that increases the number of good gut bacteria. These beneficial bacteria not only help prevent the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria, they also help the body absorb nutrients from food.
Your Muscles. A natural compound found in the skin of apples called ursolic acid may help prevent muscle wasting that can result from aging and illness.
Your Immune System. Soluble fiber, like apple pectin, may reduce the inflammation associated with obesity-related diseases. It also strengthens your overall immunity.
Your Risk of Metabolic Syndrome. Adults who eat apples, apple juice and apple sauce often have lower blood pressure and trimmer waistlines. That means a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health problems related to diabetes and heart disease.
Your Risk of Cancer. Apples are incredibly rich in antioxidants, especially quercetin, that can help prevent the onset of a variety of cancers, especially breast, prostate and colon cancer.3 In one study, the more apples per day a person ate, the less likely they were to develop colorectal cancer. The anti-cancer effect was seen even when someone had a low total consumption of fruits and vegetables but ate at least one apple a day.4 Plus, the pectin in apples binds toxins and moves them out of your body as waste.
Personally, I can’t think of a tastier way to get all of these health benefits. There are countless ways to enjoy apples. Add some chopped apples to your oatmeal at breakfast. Slather apple slices with some almond butter for a protein and fiber filled snack. Or treat yourself to a baked apple with cinnamon for dessert.
I love apples. And there are so many choices, from the “Albany Beauty” to the “Winesap” and the crunchy “Granny Smith.”
But the point is, eat them often. After all, when it comes to apples, their health benefits really don’t fall far from the tree. “An apple a day. . .” Better still, make that two.
- Heo HJ. Apple Phenolics Protect in Vitro Oxidative Stress-induced Neuronal Cell Death. Journal of Food Science. 2004;69:S357-S360.
- Setorki M. Effects of apple juice on risk factors of lipid profile, inflammation and coagulation, endothelial markers and atherosclerotic lesions in high cholesterolemic rabbits. Lipids in Health Disease. 2009;8:39.
- Reagan-Shaw S. Antiproliferative effects of apple peel extract against cancer cells. Nutrition and Cancer. 2010;62:517-524.
- Jedrychowski W. Case-control study on beneficial effect of regular consumption of apples on colorectal cancer risk in a population with relatively low intake of fruits and vegetables. European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 2010; 19:42-47.