“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” So the old wives tail claimed, and it has gained such widespread popularity that it is generally accepted as common wisdom. Adapted from the original welsh proverb popular some 100 years earlier “Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread” is there more to the rather common and ordinary apple that we should take note of?
“An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away”
The popular advice is commonly understood to be a general recommendation – a way to promote healthy eating and to include plenty of fruit and vegetables, signified by the commonly abundant apple – rather than to single out apples for special praise. A diet high in fruits and vegetables has long been associated with good health, and in particular the health of our gut microbiome and decreased risk of chronic diseases.
However perhaps we should be paying more attention to the health benefits of apples after all
Are Apples The Next Super Food?
It is understood that it is a combination of anti-oxidants, the dietary fiber and the phytochemicals present in apples – including phenolics, flavonoids and carotenoids that help feed the right bacteria in our gut, help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body and the risk of chronic disease.
Apples are extremely rich source of antioxidants, phytonutrients and dietary fiber, here are just some of the ways that apples help to keep us in good health.
Apples contain a variety of phytochemicals, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, all of which are strong antioxidants. These antioxidants all helps to reduce some of the damage caused by free radicals.
Apples are also extremely high in Vitamin C – a powerful natural antioxidant that also helps increase our immunity and resistance to bacterial or viral infections in the body.
What is more an apple contains far more antioxidant benefits than are typically found in pill form. A study published in the journal Nature, comparing the health benefits of fruits and vegetables with vitamin pills and supplements found that these benefits are not easily extracted and transferred as health and dietary supplements. Infact in one study at Cornell Univerity in Ithaca, N.Y., found that the a fresh apple contained as many antioxidants as you would find in 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C.
According to Rui Hai Liu, MD, PhD – the lead researcher on the study at Cornell “There is a huge amount of scientific evidence showing that fruits and vegetables lower the risk of cancer and heart disease, but scientists have mostly been isolating single compounds like beta-carotene and vitamin C”
“Over the years, no single compound has been proven to have a protective effect by itself. An apple could have hundreds of phytochemicals. We think the combination is the important thing.”
A typical unpeeled apple accounts for 1/5 of your recommended daily fibre. However much fibre exists in the skin, together with many of the phytochemicals and nutrients – so while its is recommended that you wash the skin thoroughly for traces and residues of pesticides and herbicides – try not peel and discard the skin.
A typical apple contains 70-80% insoluble fibre (found mainly in the skin) and 20-30% soluble fibre – found in the flesh
- Insoluble Fibre
Insoluble Fibre helps strengthen the gut wall, maintaining regular bowel movements – and preventing constipation or hemorrhoids.
- Soluble Fibre
Soluble fibre is a fermentable form of fibre and feeds our good gut bacteria – helping them grow and multiply and keep undesirable strains of bacteria in check. Soluble fibre also helps reduce or delay the absorption of glucose (sugar) in the intestines and prevent cholesterol absorption. Much of the soluble fibre in apple’s is type of fibre known as pectin, a form particularly useful for reducing LDL (or bad) cholesterol.
Modulating Our Gut Bacteria
In a study published in the journal Food Chemistry in 2014, a team of researchers analyzed how the bioactive compounds of seven different varieties of apples – Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Red Delicious –affected the make up of bacteria and microbes in the guts o obese mice.
The team found significant beneficial effects from the consumpton of apples – with the strain Granny Smiths providing the most benefit.
In addition to benefits in treating Obesity – Apples could also help lower your risk of diabetes. A study involving 187,382 people found that people who ate three servings per week of apples, grapes, raisins, blueberries or pears had a 7% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not.