Apples are the most consumed fruit in the world, and during the fall/winter season, they are at their peak. Apples are incredibly nutritious in that they not only provide 4 grams of fiber, rich in vitamin C and potassium, but more critical are a rich source of phytochemicals/antioxidants. Apples have the second-highest level of antioxidant power among all fruit, with peels having a stronger antioxidant activity than apple flesh. The two most prominent phytochemicals in apples are polyphenols/Flavonoids and phenolic acids.
Phytochemicals are substances found in fruits and vegetables, which give them their bright colors, which act as antioxidants within our bodies, preventing cell damage. Phytochemicals are non-essential nutrients and are responsible for the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Thousands of phytochemicals are in foods. However, there are many more science has yet to discover. Evidence continues to suggest that apples, may decrease the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and asthma as a result of the activity of phytochemicals. An Apple for Thanksgiving may offer you the following evidence-based Health Benefits:
Apples and Lung Cancer: The effects these phytochemicals have on lung cancer is seen in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study, involving over 77,000 women and 47,000 men. Fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 21% reduced risk in lung cancer in women. Apples were one of the fruits associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer. The study reports women who consumed at least one serving per day of apples and pears had a reduced risk of lung cancer.
The consumption of apples is showing evidence to reduce the risk of Breast Cancer. A study was providing rats with an intake of various amounts of whole apples, i.e., one, three, and six per day. The results indicated a reduction in tumor growth of 25% with an intake of one to three apples per day and a total of 61% reduction with six apples per day.
A case study in Italy demonstrates a reduction in Colon Cancer risk associated with apple consumption. The study looked at the potential protective impact of apples on colorectal cancer performed in a hospital-based case-control study. Results show that the risk of colorectal cancer correlates with the daily number of apple servings, with the most significant reductions were for an intake of one or more apple servings a day.
Apples and Diabetes: A study group of 38,018 women from Brigham and Women’s Hospital free of CVD, cancer, and diabetes was participants; to calculate their relative risks of acquiring diabetes. Observation of the dietary intake of the total amounts of flavonoid-rich foods eaten throughout the study period. Results indicate among the flavonoid-rich foods eaten; apples present a reduction of diabetes risk. Women consuming one apple a day showed a significant 28% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who did not consume apples. Another study of 10,000 Finnish men and women over 28 years of observation indicates there is a significant inverse relationship between apple intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Apples and Cardiovascular Disease: A reduced risk of cardiovascular disease is associated with apple consumption. The Women’s Health study surveyed nearly 40,000 women to examine the association between phytochemicals found in apples and CVD. The study showed women who consumed the highest amounts had a 35% reduction in risk of cardiovascular events.
Other studies have also shown the benefits of eating apples to include improvement in cognitive issues, pulmonary function, and of particular interest bone health. New research is starting to look at the correlation between consuming fruits and vegetables and osteoporosis.
Beginning with this Thanksgiving start the habit of eating an apple a day; evidence base research shows it does “keep the doctor away.”