It is October and apples abound everywhere.
They are crispy and tangy, lovely stuff, particularly when fresh (like now) and from your own (or a friend’s) garden and when free from pesticides.
Need some more reasons to consume apples?
- Apples reduce cancer risk
An Italian study with over 7600 participants, eating one or more apples every day was associated with a reduced cancer risk compared with eating less than one apple a day. The biggest reductions were seen in cancers of the mouth and throat, larynx, colon/rectum and oesophagus (Ann Oncol, 2005; 16: 1841-4).
- Apples might protect against cancer
In one Hawaiian study, there was a 40-50% lower lung-cancer risk in participants with the highest intakes of apples, onions and white grapefruit compared with those who consumed the lowest amounts of these foods. The decreased risk in lung cancer was seen in both men and women and in almost all ethnic groups (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2000; 92: 154-60).
University of Wisconsin research found that apple peel (high in antioxidants, known to have anticancer effects) can slow the growth of prostate and breast cancer cells.
Green tea is also helpful. Both green tea and apples are rich in polyphenols, compounds that have a protective effect which blocks a signalling molecule called VEGF. This molecule is the main driver of angiogenesis (blood vessel formation responsible for cancer growth), as well as the build-up of plaque in artery walls, which has been seen as the cause of heart attacks and strokes. This process is not a theory: it was actually observed by researchers from the Norwich BioScience Institute in blood samples. The polyphenols also activate another enzyme that helps promote nitric oxide in the blood, which helps widen blood vessels and prevents arterial damage.
- Apples promote cardiovascular health
Research at Florida State University randomly assigned 160 postmenopausal women to one of two groups: one ate 75 g of dried apple per day (equivalent to two medium-sized apples); the other ate the same amount of dried plums (prunes).After six months, the dried-apple group had:
- Eating apples might prevent strokes. A decade-long study in The Netherlands discovered that eating white fruits and vegetables, such as apples, pears and cauliflower, basically halved the risk of stroke. On the other hand, green, orange/yellow and red/purple fruits and vegetables were not linked to stroke incidence, the researchers found (Stroke, 2011; 42: 3190-5).
- Apples effect on heart health may be partly due to quercetin, a potent antioxidant present in apples, onions, berries, red wine and other foods and drinks (but apples are a better souce). Research has shown that as quercetin intake increases, the risk of heart disease decreases (Adv Nutr, 2012; 3: 39-46).
- 24% reduction in LDL, or ‘bad’, cholesterol levels compared with levels when they started the trial (J Acad Nutr Diet, 2012; 112: 1158-68).
- a) significantly lower total cholesterol levels than in the prune group
- b) better cardiovascular results might be obtained adding green tea to apple consumption
- Apples can help reduce weight
Eating an apple before a meal could help you lose weight, according to some evidence. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University discovered that people who ate an apple 15 minutes before lunch consumed 15% fewer calories than those who ate nothing beforehand and ate less than those who had apple juice or apple sauce.Feeling of fullness: there is something about the whole solid fruit, not just the fibre, that is important for the satiating effect (Appetite, 2009; 52: 416-22). So, eat your apples whole for full benefits.
- Apples can help reduce blood sugar and diabetes risk
In another study, 411 overweight women with high cholesterol were told to eat either an apple, pear or oat cookie three times a day for 12 weeks. Results: the participants who ate fruit (apples or pears) had significant weight loss (1.22 kg) after 12 weeks, whereas those eating the oat cookies saw no significant weight loss. Fruit eaters also had significantly lower blood glucose levels compared with the cookie eaters (Nutrition, 2003; 19: 253-6).
In a study about flavonoid intake, apples were the only flavonoid-rich food associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Women eating one or more apples a day had a 28% lower risk of having type 2 diabetes compared with those who ate no apples. The results could be due to antioxidant compounds in apples such as catechins (also found in green tea), beta-carotene and vitamin C (J Am Coll Nutr, 2005; 24: 376-84).
A 2015 study involving 200,000 men and women also found that apples reduced diabetes risk, although it concluded that blueberries and pears also had similar protective effects (Am J Clin Nutr, 2012; 95: 925-33).
- Apples reduce asthma risk
Utrecht University (NL) published a study of over 1,200 children and their mothers showing that women who eat apples during pregnancy might be able to protect their children against developing asthma.Results showed that apples were the only food (among fruit, vegetables, fruit juice, wholegrain productgs, fish, dairy products and fat spreads) that was beneficially associated with asthma. The mums who ate the most apples during pregnancy were significantly less likely to have a child with asthma or wheeze than those who ate the least apples (Thorax, 2007; 62: 773-9).
Another study (this time of 1601 young adults in Australia) reported that apple and pear intakes were associated with a decreased risk of asthma and a reduction in hypersensitivity of the lungs (‘bronchial hyperreactivity’). On the other hand, total fruit and vegetable intake was not associated with asthma risk or severity, so this protection seems to be apple and pear specific (Am J Clin Nutr, 2003; 78: 414-21).
- Apples for Alzheimer’s, Osteoporosis and Gastro-Intestinal Problems
A 2011 comprehensive review of studies on the health effects of the humble apple concluded that apples may even help to guard against developing Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and gastro-intestinal problems (Adv Nutr, 2011; 2: 408-20).
Eat your daily apple (at least one). Your health will benefit.
WHAT TYPE of APPLES?
- A type you will consume.
2. A type that is high in phenolic compounds
Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) researchers concluded that the antioxidant activity of apples differed from one variety to another and was positively associated with the level of phenolics – in other words, the apple varieties with the higher levels of phenolics tended to have greater antioxidant activity (Nutr J, 2004; 3: 5).
Of the 10 most commonly consumed varieties in the US, Fuji apples had the highest total phenolic and flavonoid compounds, followed closely by Red Delicious, Northern Spy and Gala, whereas Cortland and Empire apples were among the varieties with the lowest amounts of phenolics and flavonoids.
3. Avoid pesticides
Please note that non-organic red delicious are often the most loaded with pesticides! And in general, 80% of apples have pesticides residues on them, so apples from your own (or your neighbour’s!) garden, apples from sources you trust or buy organic.
Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 2015; 59(3): 401