Apples are grown and eaten throughout the world and have been around forever. We love apples so much it’s in everything from fragrance, flavour, the shape of a perfume bottle and even the name of our electronics. Even the infamous slogan – an apple a day keeps the doctor away, which is more about eating healthy than the actual apple itself, but let’s not lose focus.
Apples are so commonplace we may actually overlook their benefits and take them for granted. When standing with the fridge door looking longingly for something ‘nice’ to eat, you will be forgiven for not noticing the pretty pile of apples on the centre table and the row on the fridge shelf. But, after all these years in our history, it remains an easy and crunchy dose of nutrition.
Apples are high in fibre (skin on for maximum benefit), vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and now that we know more about the microbiome, there is that extra benefit of knowing that it is loaded with prebiotics which is massively beneficial to our gut health and therefore our overall health.
Let’s look at a few benefits these gems provide:
Antioxidant for anti-ageing… oh, and disease-fighting
The beauty industry has gone out of its way to let us know about the anti-ageing properties of antioxidants, and they aren’t wrong. Still, as I will repeatedly say in my blogs, diet is the best option if you want to optimize the absorption and benefits. Apples don’t just come with antioxidants; they have many cofactors that bring their own disease-fighting benefits to the table.
Apple vs Vitamin C Supplement
Antioxidant supplementation is a multibillion-dollar industry, yet the humble apple (and many other whole foods) go unnoticed (like the Cinderella of whole foods).
After a meta-analysis was done on numerous studies related to apples; this review compared the antioxidant activity between a 1500mg Vitamin C supplement to one apple (skin on), and, well, let’s just read what they wrote:
‘The total antioxidant activity of apples with the peel was approximately 83 μmol vitamin C equivalents, which means that the antioxidant activity of 100 g apples (about one serving of apple) is equivalent to about 1500 mg of vitamin C’
That same review lists the benefits in relation to cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and pulmonary function, diabetes and the ever-popular weight loss topic.
Take a deep breath
Asthma is all too real for many of us, and we need to take it seriously. So why not add food to your diet that can help. For example, apples contain a component called ‘quercetin’ that has been attributed to helping lower the risk of asthma. Now I am not saying it will cure asthma, but if you are looking to create a lifestyle that deals with your health issues from all angles, including apples in your diet is a good place to start. Again the review mentions this specifically:
‘Flavonoid intake in general was associated with a lower risk of asthma, and the association was attributed mainly to quercetin, hesperitin, and naringenin’.
Keeping ’It’ Regular
Because of all that fibre and prebiotic goodness, apples help keep you regular and help avoid that nasty constipation that seems so common nowadays. (Now you know what ‘it’ refers to).
Constipation isn’t just an uncomfortable experience; if it’s happening a little too often, you definitely want to get it checked out. It could be a symptom of an underlying health problem or actually cause nasty things like haemorrhoids, Hiatal hernias, and varicose veins.
The Wrong Kind of Runs
You may think avoiding apples would be better if you have the ‘runs’, but that would be a mistake. They contain a binding ingredient called pectin. Not only is this the reason we use apple sauce as an egg substitute in baking, but that very same effect works in your intestine and helps keep things balanced. Applesauce made with the skin is a great home remedy used over the ages. Homemade applesauce is, of course, the best and the only sure-fire way to ensure it hasn’t been loaded with sugar and additives.
Hopefully, by now, I have convinced you to give apples another go and not let them go wrinkly and brown on the kitchen counter. But, if this is the case, I have a few extra pointers to help you.
So your choice is that you can have a tasteless supplement or a delicious crispy disease-fighting apple that will satisfy a craving or two and keep hunger pangs at bay – you decide.
Buying and Storing Apples
- Buy organic where possible.
- Check your apples before buying them and try to get them as unbruised and firm as possible. They should have a bright colour, no wrinkling and smell good.
- As soon as you get home, be sure to give them a good rinse and dry them off well.
- Store lose and on their own. In addition, apples give off ethylene gas which accelerates the ripening of produce.
- Fresh apples can be kept in the fridge for a few months (they may not look as pretty, but they are still okay).
- Use browned, older or bruised apples for applesauce or cooking – you won’t notice the blemishes and still get all the flavour and goodness.
Taking the boring out of apples
- Apples served with a side of almond butter to dip in is a great snack and rich in boron;
- Dice your apple and add to your oatmeal for extra flavour;
- Sprinkle your apple with a bit of cinnamon and/nutmeg to spice it up;
- Skip the cucumber and add some apple slices to your next sandwich (you will be surprised).
What about the Wax on Apples?
There have been videos going around showing warm water being poured over apples and a shockingly large amount of wax coming off the apples. This, of course, is very off-putting and may make you rethink your apple consumption. But here are a few things you should know:
Yes – some food chains do coat their apples with a wax mix. They do this to add shine and for longevity. The type of wax and how much they use depends on the supplier. Different blends include natural and synthetic ingredients. We are also assured that these are safe and do not harm us. Whether you believe this or not is up to you. Organic farmers seem to get by just fine without it?
At this point, you may be thinking, ‘ where did they get the idea to coat apples with wax’? Brace yourselves – nature. Yup, in nature, all species have built-in protection mechanisms, and apples are one of the fruits that actually produce their own protective wax-like coating. (The coating is called epicuticular or cuticle wax). Perfectly safe, and nothing a good rinse in vinegar water won’t sort out.
Apples really are a healthy ‘to-go go-to’ (that was fun to type) food. No extra packaging is needed.
So. before you give your farmer or organic fruit supplier the beady eye, ask them if they add wax or if it’s the natural version. In fact, check before assuming as not all fresh produce suppliers add wax.
Is it a thumbs up or thumbs down for apples?
All those interesting health benefits of apples aside, it’s a really versatile little fruit. If you find eating a whole apple a little boring, then my challenge is to incorporate it in other ways.
Is there a downside?
If you were to back me into a corner and ask me what’s one downside of apples? I would have to mention the seed. It contains trace amounts of cyanogenic glycosides. These glycosides release tiny amounts of cyanide when coming into contact with human digestive enzymes. Now before you panic! Please note that the author of this here article has eaten apple seeds since she was a child. Even my grandmother told me an apple tree would grow out of my stomach and through my ears. You would also need to eat and very finely chew a lot. I mean A LOT of seeds to do some damage. So maybe, don’t eat the seeds.
All in all, apples are a great addition to a nutritious diet – so thumbs up from me… how about you?