*This article was originally printed in Fall 2020 issue of Heart to Heart Magazine.
Fall is here. Before it’s gone, take the time to enjoy the many heart healthy benefits of apples. In North Carolina, apples are in season from late August through February with prime picking months occurring in September and October.
Whether you prefer sweet or tart varieties, apples pack a punch of flavor and crunch – while also providing a heart healthy option for snacking or incorporating into tasty fall- and winter-friendly recipes.
The Research is In – The Many Health Benefits of Apples
Like all fruits and plant foods in general, apples are high in vitamins, minerals and other healthful nutrients. Not only do they taste great in both sweet and savory dishes, apples also offer many impressive health benefits. Here are a few top reasons to incorporate apples into your diet this fall.
#1 – Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants help protect your body from cell damage that can lead to inflammation and disease. Apples are rich in several types of antioxidants, including powerful polyphenols and flavonoids such as catechin and quercetin. Catechin is one of the antioxidants found in green tea and has been linked to blood clot prevention and improved circulation.
Quercetin has been linked to numerous health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, preventing allergies and respiratory infections, reducing inflammation, and preventing diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Since a bulk of the quercetin is found in the peel, eat the whole apple to take in its cancer-fighting benefits.
#2 – High in Fiber
Apples contain 4 grams of dietary fiber per apple. Fiber brings many proven health benefits, including better bowel and digestive health, lower cholesterol, better blood sugar control and decreased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Researchers believe the viscous soluble fiber like the pectin found in apples may help lower total and LDL (the bad cholesterol) without affecting HDL (the good cholesterol).
A California State University study demonstrated that snacking on 2-6 apples per week can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by 28%.
#3 – Support Bone Density
Apples are rich in boron, a mineral that helps the body effectively use calcium. Calcium helps strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. In addition, the antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids found in apples can help increase bone density and reduce inflammation.
#4 – Promote Heart & Lung Health
Apples help support healthy organs, too. Apples are beneficial to the lungs—vitamin C and flavonoids help to prevent asthma. Numerous studies have shown that eating apples on a consistent basis supports general cardiovascular health and lowers risk factors for cardiovascular disease. A February 2020 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two whole apples per day offered cholesterol-lowering effects as well as improved vascular function in study participants.
#5 – Could Reduce Stroke Risk
A meta-analysis of studies that followed people over several years was published in a 2014 issue of Stroke – Journal of the American Heart Association and demonstrated that the more fruit people ate, the lower their risk of stroke. In fact, for every serving of fruit consumed per day, the risk of stroke was reduced by 32%.
Specifically, the study indicated the risk of stroke was 52% lower for people who ate large amounts of white-fleshed fruits and vegetables like apples, pears and cauliflower.
#6 – Help Reduce Caloric Intake
A medium-sized apple contains just 95 calories and may help with efforts to maintain a healthy weight.
According to a 2008 study published in international research journal Appetite, eating an apple before a meal helped participants to consume 15% fewer calories than those who ate only the meal. Due to its high water and fiber content, apples can make you feel full for longer – while adding a healthy crunch to your daily diet.
About Heart to Heart Magazine
Heart to Heart magazine is published three times a year for patients and their families, former patients and physicians associated with the WakeMed Heart Center. You, too, can discover heart-healthy recipes, get the scoop on the latest trends in nutrition and read about the extraordinary men and women who work within the Heart Center’s walls.