Can an apple a day keep the doctor away? Maybe, but the average person only eats about one fresh apple per week. Apples are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, while being low in calories (one average-sized apple has about 80 calories). Apples also contain large amounts of phytochemicals called flavonoids and phenolic acids that work as antioxidants to protect the cells in your body from free-radical damage.
People who eat apples every day may be at a lower risk for developing certain types of cancer, including mouth, throat and esophageal cancer. This may be due to the assortment of phytochemicals, or it may happen because people who eat lots of apples tend to eat plenty of additional fruits and vegetables. Population studies suggest eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of some types of cancer. The flavonoids in apples, especially quercetin, have been shown to slow the growth of cancerous cells in laboratory studies. Quercetin has been isolated in the laboratory, and is sometimes sold as a dietary supplement. However, while laboratory studies show quercetin may have some anti-cancer activity in test tubes and lab animals, there isn't any research to support the idea that taking quercetin supplements will help to prevent cancer in humans.
The flavonoids in apples may also help to prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol and by improving the function of your blood vessels. In one large study, post-menopausal women who had the highest levels of flavonoids in their blood were least likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Apples were among the individual flavonoid-rich foods that showed a significant correlation.
Apples may also help to prevent cancer and cardiovascular by helping you cut calories. Apples are nutrient-dense without being energy-dense, so they can help you maintain a healthy weight while satisfying your sweet tooth.
Apples are inexpensive and easy to find in every grocery store. There are varieties of apples that range from bright green to deep red. Some apples are sweet and perfect for snacking, while other apples are more tart and better for cooking. The easiest and healthiest way to enjoy an apple is to simply grab it from a fruit bowl, give it a good rinse and eat it. Or take one with you -- they're not as delicate as most other fruits so you can easily pack an apple in your lunch.
Apples can also be used as ingredients in many healthy dishes, but avoid recipes that call for large amounts of sugar. Here are some examples of healthy recipes that call for apples:
- Low-Calorie Baked Apple Crisp
- Apple Cider Slaw
- Low-Fat Sweet Potato and Apple Soup
- Chicken with Apples
- Wild Rice with Cranberries and Apples
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