Sometimes the simplest foods are the best foods for us.
You don’t have to be a nutritionist to realize that apples are good for you. Not only do they come in their own packaging—meaning you can eat the skin—they are also full of nutrients that give them a huge list of health benefits.
1. Whiter, healthier teeth
Apples won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple can stimulate the production of saliva in your mouth and reduce tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.
2. Avoid Alzheimer’s
A study on the benefits of apples shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. The mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.
3. Curb all sorts of cancers
Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 percent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon, and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumours in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fibre intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
4. Decrease your risk of diabetes
Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. According to the Ontario Apple Growers, this fruit is extremely high in pectin—a soluble fibre—and is the key to blunting blood sugar swings.
5. Reduce cholesterol
The soluble fibre found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels. (Related: Here’s what doctors do to lower their high cholesterol.)
6. Get a healthier heart
An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fibre intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.
7. Prevent gallstones
Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fibre (ahem, apples again) to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.
8. Beat diarrhea and constipation
Whether you can’t go to the bathroom or you just can’t stop, fibre found in apples can help. Fibre can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along when you’re backed up, or absorb excess water from your stool to slow your bowels down.
9. Neutralize irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. To control these symptoms doctors recommend staying away from dairy and fatty foods. People with IBS understand all too well how food can make symptoms worse. (Related: These are the diet changes you need to make if you have IBS.)
10. Prevent hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are a swollen vein in the anal canal. While not life threatening, these veins can be very painful. They are caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas. Part and parcel with controlling constipation, fibre can help keep your bowel movements regular and prevent you from straining too much when going to the bathroom.
11. Control your weight
Many health problems are associated with being overweight, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea. To manage weight and improve overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fibre.
12. Detoxify your liver
Your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are skeptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best (and easiest) things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is to incorporate fruits, like apples, into your diet.
13. Boost your immune system
Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system—especially when you’re stressed out.
This story was originally published in November. 2018.
Next: 25 unbelievably delicious apple recipes to make this season.