In this article:
- A medium-sized apple contains only 40 calories, and almost no fat, sodium or cholesterol.
- The fibrous content of apples may help in reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular ailments.
- These crunchy, sweet-tasting delights have many health benefits. They may help enhance your gut health and facilitate better digestion.
- Apple seeds contain cyanogenic compounds which can prove toxic if consumed in large quantities.
Malus domestica is a giant flowering plant from the Rosaceae family that produces a bright-colored (commonly red), sweet and delicious fruit that we know as apple. About 7500 different varieties of apples are cultivated all around the world.
In the United States, the apple is the most commonly eaten fruit after bananas. Almost 65% of apples produced in the United States are eaten raw, and the rest is processed into products such as applesauce and apple juice. (1)
Apples are rich in flavonoids, which are phytochemicals credited with multiple health benefits. Quercetin and catechin are two of the most abundant flavonoids present in apples. They exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Apples are also packed with soluble fibers called pectin, which may help prevent the deposition of bad cholesterol in your arteries.
Apple With or Without Peel: Which Is Better?
Apples can be eaten with or without its peel, but a lot of people wonder which one is the better option. Does getting rid of the peel reduce its overall nutritional value?
There is also the concern that the peel might contain pesticides that can make the fruit toxic for consumption.
Apple skin is not only a rich source of dietary fiber, but it also contains plenty of flavonoids that offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
The apple peel contains twice the amount of flavonoids present in its flesh. Depending upon the variety of apple, its skin may contain two to six times more polyphenols than the flesh.
Apple peels are generously endowed with one flavonoid in particular, quercetin. This plant compound is considered beneficial for your cardiovascular health.
The skin of an apple also contains copious amounts of chlorogenic acid, a phenolic compound that is known to exhibit potent anticarcinogenic properties. (2)
Thus, if you remove the outer layer of an apple, you lose out on a significant nutrient reserve.
Apple flesh and peel together contain a lot of nutrients, but the growing risk of pesticides may be a concern. However, thoroughly washing the fruit may help in getting rid of the pesticides on the outer layer. You may choose to eat an apple with or without the peel according to your preference. But note that it is recommended to consume the fruit with its skin intact to reap its total health potential.
Nutritional Value of Apples
Apples have a high water content, which accounts for almost 85% of its composition. They contain 13% carbohydrates.
Apples are also loaded with nutrients, including vitamins (C and B complex), plant compounds, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, each of which has its own health merits.
Apples contain plenty of dietary fiber. One kg (2.2 lbs.) of fresh apples may provide about 500 kcal of energy.
Every 100 g portion of raw apple with skin contains the following:
|Total lipid (fat)||0.17||g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||13.81||g|
|Fiber, total dietary||2.4||g|
|Sugars, total including NLEA||10.39||g|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||4.6||mg|
|Vitamin A, RAE||3||µg|
|Vitamin A, IU||54||IU|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||29||µg|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.18||mg|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||2.2||µg|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||0.028||g|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||0.007||g|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||0.051||g|
This nutritional breakdown is based on analytical data for Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, and Fuji varieties. (3)
Benefits of Eating Apples
Apples are bestowed with a refreshing taste and numerous health benefits.
1. Aids Weight Loss
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and many other health issues.
Apples are rich sources of fiber and have low calories, so they are great for keeping your weight under control.
Fiber-rich foods keep you feeling full for longer, which prevents overeating and untimely snacking. The breakdown of the pectin fibers in apples usually requires a lot of chewing, further promoting satiety.
A 2011 review published in Advances in Nutrition highlighted the benefits of eating low-calorie, high-fiber foods for weight loss. (4)
However, this evidence is not enough to legitimize the fact that apples trigger a reduction in weight. Nonetheless, the nutritional value of apples makes them a good food option in a weight loss diet. (4)
The Journal of Oleo Science published a double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial in 2010, which demonstrated that regular consumption of beverages containing apple phenols may help reduce the visceral fat area (VFA) in obese people. (5)
It was also suggested that beverages with apple polyphenols can be ingested safely for an extended period without any significant side effects. (5)
Regular intake of raw apples has been linked to better nourishment because they contribute significantly to the daily intake of dietary fiber.
A survey published in Nutrition Journal showed that consuming apples in various forms, such as whole apples, applesauce, and 100% apple juice, improves the overall quality of diet, which may reduce the likelihood of obesity in children. (1)(6)
If you are trying to reach a healthy weight, you should maintain a well-balanced, wholesome diet. Including apples regularly in your dietary regimen may help you to reach your weight goals faster.
2. Sustains Heart Health
The heart is a vital organ that continuously supplies all the other systems of your body with oxygenated blood.
Maintaining your cardiovascular health is of utmost importance because it directly affects your overall health and quality of life.
Some factors that add to the risk of heart diseases are increased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), smoking, obesity, and hypertension.
Apples are generously packed with phytonutrients known as catechin, phloridzin, quercetin, and chlorogenic acids that help protect the cardiovascular system from oxidative damage.
Oxidation is involved in plaque buildup that leads to different types of heart diseases.
Pectin may prevent hardening of the arteries as it does not allow the cholesterol to become solid and accumulate in your arteries. As a result, proper blood circulation is maintained.
The findings of a 2014 study published in the European Journal of Heart Failure suggested that if apples are eaten in a certain quantity, they may help reduce the risk of heart failure. (7)
A 2015 systematic review published in Nutrients found that consuming apples regularly may help in improving your coronary health and lowering the incidence of total cardiovascular disease mortality. This is because apples contain abundant flavonoids (phytochemicals). (8)
Various researches have supported the role of phytochemicals in apples in reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues. Eating two apples daily or drinking 12 ounces of apple juice may reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL) in your body. This, in turn, helps keep your heart strong and healthy.
3. Manages Diabetes
Apples may lower your risk of developing diabetes and may help people with diabetes to manage their symptoms.
The polyphenols in apples slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, which improves the regulation of blood sugar.
Regular intake of apples may reduce the absorption of glucose in the digestive tract and may stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin.
A meta-analysis of five independent prospective cohort studies suggested that people who include apples in their diet may be less prone to type 2 diabetes mellitus than those who do not.
These three characteristics of apples may help curb the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus: (9)
- Abundance of polyphenols
- High dietary fiber content
- Ample supply of phytochemicals.
Apples are replete with bioactive components, such as polyphenols and pectin, which can contribute to better health.
However, the pectin and other cell wall constituents of the fruit are usually eliminated during the processing of apple juice, which significantly lowers its nutritional goodness.
Another meta-analysis published in the BMJ (2013) elaborated that eating certain whole fruits such as apples, grapes, and blueberries may notably reduce a person’s likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, whereas drinking fruit juice may increase your blood glucose suddenly and make you susceptible to this disease. (10)
Apple consumption has been positively associated with lowering the chances of developing diabetes. People suffering from this ailment may benefit from the dietary fiber present in apples, which may help regulate the level of their blood glucose. However, consuming apple juice in fresh or packaged (may contain added sugar) form is not recommended as it abruptly increases the blood sugar level. A sudden spike in blood sugar may result in a medical emergency.
4. Lowers Cholesterol
The soluble fiber (pectin) in apples may help reduce the level of plasma cholesterol. Plasma cholesterol is recognized as an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
A randomized, single-blinded clinical study published in the European Journal of Nutrition revealed that the pectin fiber found in apples may help decrease the concentration of total serum cholesterol in the body. (11)
However, the same effect cannot be expected from apple juice, which loses most of its fiber content during the juicing process. (11)
According to the findings of a 2017 randomized clinical trial, different varieties of apples exhibit a different degree of cholesterol-lowering effect. This effect depends on the apple’s inherent cultivar and phenolic composition. Annurca apples are considered to be the most effective in this regard. (12)
Apples are credited with the ability to reduce your cholesterol levels, but only when consumed as part of an overall wholesome and healthy diet.
5. Improves Gut Health
Certain constituents of apples, including sorbitol, fructose, fiber, and phytochemicals, may help facilitate a smooth digestion process.
In a 2016 randomized, single-blind trial conducted on 647 children, diluted apple juice was found to be an effective alternative to the standard electrolyte maintenance solution for the treatment of mild gastroenteritis and minimal dehydration. (13)
Nevertheless, diluted apple juice is not a standalone treatment and should be administered along with other fluids preferred by your child to restore his/her electrolyte balance. (13)
A 2018 systematic review published in Nutrients highlighted that the dietary fibers found in whole fruits such as apples exhibit prebiotic effects. Such effects may help increase the beneficial bacteria in intestines and prevent gastrointestinal health issues. (14)
Apples are super fibrous fruits that may help enhance your overall gut health and function by maintaining a healthy microbiota in your gastrointestinal tract.
6. Other Probable Benefits of Apples
Apples are versatile fruits that can be eaten raw or added to various culinary preparations.
This high-fiber fruit may have a few additional health benefits aside from the ones already mentioned. However, the following health benefits are yet to be supported by further research.
Promotes Bone Health: Apples and apple-derived products contain a flavonoid called phloridzin. This flavonoid may help in maintaining bone integrity and lessening the risk of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.
Decreases the Risk of Cancer: Apples are abundant reserves of phytochemicals (flavonoids and phenolic acids), soluble and insoluble fibers, and vitamins that exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
A combination of these properties may help inhibit oxidative damage to the DNA. Alterations in the DNA are responsible for cancer cell proliferation (multiplication of cancer cells) and metastasis (spread of cancer). Apple consumption is, therefore, associated with a reduced risk of cancer. (21)
Good for Oral Health: Apple intake may also prevent oral cavities. Given its high fibrous content and crunchy texture, chewing an apple has a scrubbing effect on the teeth and gums.
This can help reduce plaque accumulation in the oral cavity.
Apples also contain a heavy dose of vitamin C, a vital antioxidant that may preserve and promote your gum health.
Apples can provide up to 15% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C and can help reduce the incidence of gum disease and bleeding.
Supports Liver Health: Unregulated levels of cholesterol may lead to an increase in low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) in your body, which in turn may damage your liver.
Apple polyphenols (especially pectin) are known for their cholesterol-reducing and gut flora-promoting benefits.
Pectin promotes the elimination of toxins and excess cholesterol during the digestion process in the intestines.
Improved digestion may help in reducing the absorption of dietary cholesterol, stimulates hepatic detoxification, and eases the pressure on the liver. (17)
Maintains Brain Health: Studies have revealed that people who consume more fruits and vegetables may be less prone to psychological disorders such as dementia and cognitive impairment.
Relieves Asthma: A few studies have backed the usefulness of apples in providing symptomatic relief in asthma.
Although the evidence is scarce, fruit consumption has been inversely associated with asthma in some cohort studies wherein the strongest association was observed with intake of apples and oranges.
If you suffer from asthma, eating whole apples may be more beneficial than consuming apple derivatives such as apple juice because the excessive free fructose (EFF) in apple juice may worsen your symptoms instead of reducing them. (16)
Wash Your Apples Thoroughly!
Before straightaway eating an apple you just bought, you must wash it to get rid of germs and dirt on its surface.
Washing an apple is recommended even if you are going to peel it before consumption.
Use a clean paper towel to dry it afterward. Also, it is better to remove the bruised or damaged parts of an apple.
Am I Eating Apples at the Right Time?
In this day and age, improper eating and irregular sleeping habits are common. These unhealthy habits may disrupt your bowel movements and cause discomfort.
The ample amounts of dietary fiber present in apples may help in easing the digestive process, which is why a lot of health experts recommend eating an apple first thing in the morning.
Caution: You may consume an apple any time during the day without experiencing any adverse effects. However, people who are prone to acid reflux may feel the effects of acidity after eating the tart varieties of apples (such as green apples). If you have such a problem, then it is best to eat an apple in between the bigger meals.
Can I Eat Apples on an Empty Stomach?
Eating a raw apple on an empty stomach has several benefits, including the elimination of toxins from your body and improved digestive process.
Apples are low in calories and high in water content, which may help you in reducing your calorific intake and managing your weight.
However, people suffering from gastrointestinal diseases should avoid eating fruits on an empty stomach as doing so may aggravate their acid reflux and may cause distress.
Processed Versus Fresh Apple
Processing an apple changes its nutrient profile.
For example, drying apples obliterates the vitamin C in its flesh. Sometimes, dried apples are sweetened with sugar, which adds to its calorific value and makes it less healthy.
Similarly, juicing eliminates vital nutrients and fibers during filtering and heat treatment (pasteurization).
Green Versus Red Apple
Apples are among the most widely consumed fruits in the world. There are multiple varieties of this fruit but it is broadly classified into two: red and green apples.
Although both red and green apples are associated with a number of health benefits, here are some factors that may help you in deciding which one suits you better.
1. Sugar Content
Red apples have a higher sugar content than the green varieties.
Green apples such as the Granny Smith are generally tart, whereas red apples such as Red Delicious and Fuji are among the sweetest selections of apples.
Regardless of being sweet or sour, both types of apples are known to help manage the symptoms of diabetes when consumed in moderation.
Fruit sugars are different from the sugar added to processed foods. Fruit sugars are the carbohydrates that energize you.
On the other hand, processed foods contain refined sugars that are empty calories and do not provide any nourishment.
2. Nutrient Content
The nutritional value of red and green apples is quite similar. Both varieties possess almost equal amounts of vitamin C and fiber.
Green apples contain 10% lesser calories than the red varieties. On the other hand, red apples may have up to 50% more beta-carotene content than green ones. Beta-carotene is a precursor for vitamin A.
One thing that differentiates red and green varieties is the presence of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the plant pigments that are responsible for the vibrant red color of the apple skin.
They vary from red and purple to blue and black hues, depending on their pH.
Green apples are completely devoid of anthocyanins. Among red ones, the anthocyanin content varies depending on factors such as cross-breeding and environmental factors.
Are Apples Good for Babies?
Apples are a great addition to your baby’s solid food diet. Apples are generally non-allergenic and gentle on the baby’s young digestive system.
The soluble and insoluble fibers present in apples may help in regulating your child’s bowel movements. The other nutrients provide essential nourishment for your baby’s growth.
Peeling an apple is essential if you are feeding it to an infant younger than 8 months. Babies who are past this age can be given apples with their skin.
This versatile fruit can be prepared in a number of ways and given to your little one. You can add this sweet, nutritious delight to yogurt, cereals, fruit salads, and teething biscuits.
You can also simply puree the fruit and let your child snack on it.
Note: Babies who are not old enough to chew may choke on a chunky piece of apple. So, it is better to chop an apple into small pieces or puree it before feeding it to your infant.
All things considered, it is always better to err on the side of caution and remove the seeds to prevent any potential health hazards.
Drug Interactions with Apple Juice
Atenolol: Atenolol is a drug generally prescribed to treat hypertension. Apple juice may reduce the oral absorption of atenolol and may hamper its efficacy.
To understand the discrete influence of apple juice on atenolol, further research is warranted. (20)
Fexofenadine: Another drug that may have a counter interaction with fruit juices such as orange or apple juice is fexofenadine. This antihistamine is used to treat the symptoms of allergic reactions. Apple juice may impede the extent of absorption of fexofenadine into the blood.
Other antiallergic drugs whose efficacy may be reduced if consumed with apple juice include cetirizine and loratadine.
Like all other members of the Rosaceae or rose family of plants, apples contain certain proteins that are similar to birch tree pollen, which is a common allergen.
These proteins may induce an allergic response known as an IgE-mediated food allergy (immune response to a specific food item).
Approximately 50%-75 % of people allergic to birch tree pollen get an itchy throat or dry mouth after eating fruits belonging to the Rosaceae family.
Apple allergens cause an adverse immunologic response called “oral allergy syndrome.” The signs and symptoms include itching of mouth and throat, swelling of the face, and redness on the affected areas.
These signs and symptoms may manifest while you are chewing or swallowing the fruit. They may also develop 5-15 minutes after eating an apple.
The symptoms usually subside after 15-60 minutes.
Is Eating Apple Seeds Risky?
The core of an apple is embedded with several tiny brown seeds that contain a poisonous compound known as amygdalin (a cyanogenic glycoside).
When you chew on these seeds, the amygdalin is released in your system and is converted to hydrogen cyanide by your digestive enzymes.
Hydrogen cyanide is known to induce toxicity in your body by diminishing the ability of your cells to use oxygen properly.
Your body can slowly metabolize and eliminate trace amounts of hydrogen cyanide from your system, but high levels of this compound can be fatal.
However, if you swallow the seeds whole, you are unlikely to suffer any toxic effects. These seeds are enclosed in hard shells that prevent them from being digested.
Also, a couple of seeds release only a scant amount of amygdalin, which does not pose any significant health risk.
Unless you chew a lot of apple seeds, the probability of your body absorbing enough hydrogen cyanide to cause any considerable damage remains a bare minimum.
Different Varieties of Apple
The following are well-known varieties of apples that are commonly used for baking, cooking, and raw consumption.
Acerbic or slightly sweet apples are generally preferred for cooking purposes. These include:
- Golden Delicious
If you want to enjoy the sweet, juicy goodness of the raw apples, try the following varieties:
- Red Delicious
Products Containing Apple
Apples may be consumed raw or cooked. Here are a few typical ways of preparing and enjoying this delicious fruit.
- Fruit salad
- Apple jelly
- Apple jam
- Apple juice
- Dried apples
- Apple cider vinegar
- Baked apples
- Crunchy ap ple chips
- An ingredient in bakery products such as muffins, pie, and cakes
- Apple Sauce
Here is an easy applesauce recipe that can be made at home:
- Apples – 6 pounds, peeled, cores removed, chopped into 8 slices each
- Apple juice or apple cider – 1 cup
- Brown sugar – 1/2 cup, packed
- Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon (you can use more or less according to your taste)
- Lemon juice from one lemon
- Some optional items that you may include in your recipe: maple syrup, butter, and allspice
- Put apples and all the other ingredients in a large pot.
- Cook over medium heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Let the apples cool down before you puree them in a food processor or blender.
- Do not fill the food processor jar to the brim. Puree in multiple portions to avoid any accident.
- Keep the applesauce refrigerated.
You can serve your applesauce by itself or pair it with savory dishes or desserts according to your preference.
Storage of Apples
After the apples are picked from the trees, they continue to ripen. This is because apples are climacteric fruits. They emit ethylene gas, which assists the ripening process even after the fruit has been harvested.
Within 1-2 weeks after picking, the texture of apples may become grainy and dry if you store them at room temperature.
So, if you want to maintain the crunchy and juicy goodness of apples for longer (around 1–2 months), it is best to store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
Ethylene production declines inside the refrigerator due to the low temperature, slowing down the ripening process.
Keeping apples separate from other fruits and vegetables is recommended as the ethylene gas released by them can quickly deteriorate other produce.
Apples are scrumptious fruits that give justice to the old Welsh proverb “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It is a nutrient-dense fruit that is readily available around the world.
It is recommended to eat both the flesh and the skin of the fruit if you want to reap the maximum benefits of apples.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Kathleen Putnam, MS (RDN)
There is nothing wrong with eating an apple every day. There are hundreds of varieties of apples. It is always best to eat fruits and vegetables that are in the season.
No. Apple peels are a good source of enzymes, antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. The combination of a high level of phenolic compounds and antioxidants in apple peels boost immunity, support the inflammation response system, and provide significant health benefits.
Apples contain carbohydrates which can affect blood sugar. Apples are also high in soluble fiber, polyphenols, and water, which all slow down digestion, thus having a minimal impact on blood sugar and unlikely to cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, even in people with diabetes.
Both are equally nutritious.
There is no indication that consuming apples during pregnancy is harmful. Consuming a large amount of apple seeds however has been shown to be harmful because apple seeds contain hydrogen cyanide. Apples are fine to consume, not apple seeds. (22)
Apples eaten whole as a part of a balanced diet can support weight loss.
Eating apples as part of a meal or snack can be enjoyed equally.
• Enjoy apples topped with nut butter for a snack.
• Consume yogurt and an apple as a way to start your day or as a snack between meals.
• Add diced or shredded apples to a salad.
• Bake apples with cinnamon for a wholesome dessert option.
About Ms. Kathleen Putnam, MS, RDN, CDN: Kathleen holds a Master’s Degree from Bastyr University in Nutrition and consults online as a Lifestyle Coach for patients with diabetes. She also runs a successful coaching practice working with hundreds of patients and serves as Associate Professor of Nutrition and Human Development in multiple higher education institutions in Seattle.
Kathleen has worked as a trainer with the Dean Ornish Program for reversing heart disease. She is also a provider with Laurel Mellin coaching using the EBT (Emotional Brain Training) program out of UCSF navigating clients process to end stress eating.