The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has been around for centuries – and it turns out, it’s more than just an old wives tale. There are many health benefits of apples – from improving the brain to the skin.
Here are just a few reasons why you should make apples a part of your regular dietary regimen — maybe not daily, due to their high sugar content, but at least weekly.
How Apples Benefit the Body
Research indicates that one of the antioxidants in apples, known as quercetin, might play a role in helping to improve neurological health. One study showed it may help to prevent the death of brain cells due to oxidation. This, in turn, could substantially reduce the risk of many kinds of neurodegenerative problems.1
Another study involving more than 9,000 people showed that those who ate apples most often had a lower risk of suffering a stroke.2 Apples may also lower the levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol in the blood.
Researchers found that women who ate apples each day for six months saw a more than 20 percent reduction in bad cholesterol. They also saw a 4 percent increase in high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol, which can lower the chances of developing heart disease.3
Apples for Weight Loss?
Apples might also play a role in helping with weight loss, according to one study. According to the results, participants who ate apple slices consumed 200 fewer calories on average per meal than those who had apple juice, applesauce, or no apples. They also experienced greater feelings of fullness.4
In another study, a group of 50 obese women ate either apples or oatmeal cookies as part of their daily routine for 10 weeks. Both the apples and cookies were similar in fiber content and calories.
Researchers found that the women who ate apples not only lost two more pounds on average, but they also consumed fewer overall calories. The reason, they believe, is that apples provided a greater sense of fullness, or satiety, than the cookies.5
Apples: Gut Friendly?
Apples have also been shown to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract. Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that is a prebiotic. The human body can’t digest this type of fiber – but the good bacteria in our gut can. The bacteria use prebiotics as food. This gives them the energy to balance out the bad microbes in the gut, and it helps our digestive system work properly.6
The benefits of apples are stretched even further when they’re fermented. Fermented apples can be turned into apple cider vinegar, and vinegar produces acetic acid. This helps to produce beneficial bacteria. Acetic acid also plays a role in helping keep your blood sugar under control after you eat a meal.7
Other Apple Benefits
Could the antioxidants in apples help improve breathing? A study involving nearly 70,000 women showed that those who regularly ate apples had a lower risk of developing certain breathing problems.8
The benefits of apples have also been associated with improved bone health. One of the indicators of overall bone health is increased bone density.
Research shows that the antioxidants in apples may help increase bone density. Calcium is also key to bone health, and one medium-sized apple (approximately 3-inches in diameter) contains 11 mg of this important mineral.9
One study was performed on four groups of women to determine how apple consumption affects the body’s supply of calcium. According to the results, the women who consumed apples had more calcium in their blood than those who didn’t have any kind of apple products.10
Hair Benefits of Apples
Many of the vitamins and minerals in apples help promote the health of your hair. For example, vitamin E helps blood circulate properly in the scalp – which may help hair grow.11 Vitamin B6, also found in apples, helps to produce a hormone known as melanin. This may help keep hair from aging prematurely.12 Procyanidin, a compound found in apples, may also help promote hair growth.13
Apple cider vinegar also has properties that could also boost your hair’s health. Diluted apple cider vinegar might, for instance, help reduce dandruff.14
Skin Benefits of Apples
The vitamin C in apples may also help your skin. The vitamin C in apples helps promote the development of collagen – which helps to keep the skin firm. Skin lacking enough collagen is more prone to wrinkling.1516
Apples also contain copper, a mineral that also helps to promote healthy skin. Copper plays a key role in producing melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its color. But melanin also helps to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.17
Another important vitamin for skin health found in apples is vitamin A. It helps ensure that cells reproduce the way they should. It also helps keep the skin from developing signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines. Vitamin A is often used in topical form to help people suffering from severe cases of acne.18
Different Types of Apples
These are some of the most common types of apples you’ll find at most supermarkets and at farmers markets.
This apple has red and pink coloring and a sweet, tart taste. It is great for making a cobbler or apple pie.
The honeycrisp usually has a bit of green mixed in with red. This type of apple will usually have a longer shelf life than most of its counterparts.19 It also works very well in an apple pie.
Fuji apples are typically larger and are usually more yellowish in color than other varieties. They are especially hearty, with a shelf life of as long as six months when refrigerated.20 Fuji apples are especially good for sprinkling into a salad. They’re also very juicy, making them a good choice for making apple cider.
The gala apple is typically yellow in color and has red stripes. It’s not as sweet as other varieties, but it does feature a hint of vanilla taste.
The granny smith apple is known for its green coloring and tart taste. It’s another good choice for a salad, since it doesn’t brown as fast as other types once you cut it.21
A Final Word
As you can see, apples not only taste great – they also help deliver substantial health benefits, including for your hair and skin. They’re loaded with fiber and antioxidants, and they contain other beneficial minerals and vitamins that can help keep your body strong. The apple is a mighty nutritional powerhouse – the benefits of apples should not be overlooked!
Want more dietary tips, keep reading here:
How To Make Low-Sugar Apple Crisps
9 Gut Friendly Foods That Supercharge Your Health
Sapodilla: The Strange Fruit With Incredible Health Benefits