6 Surprising Health Facts About Apples
No matter how you slice 'em, apples are one of the healthiest foods you can pick
If you had to guess, what type of fruit would you say kids like best? If you picked apples (pun intended), you’d be absolutely right. A new survey published in the journal Pediatrics reports that apples, mostly whole fruit rather than juice, account for nearly 30 percent of fruit consumed by children ages 2 to 19.
Besides contributing to the five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables per day experts recommend, are all those Galas and Granny Smiths keeping the pediatrician away? Could be, considering these six health facts about apples.
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1. Apples' health appeal is in the peel. Much of the fiber in apples is found in the peel, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. An unpeeled medium-sized apple has 4.4 grams of fiber. Minus the peel that same apple has only 2.1 grams of fiber.
Most of the antioxidants in apples also are concentrated in the peel, according to a Canadian study. That study compared levels of polyphenols, a group of important antioxidant compounds that may play a role in preventing diseases such as cancer and heart disease, in eight varieties of apples. In the study, the levels of polyphenols were five times higher in an apple’s skin than in its flesh.
2. When it comes to antioxidants, all apples are not created equal. The same Canadian research found the amount of antioxidants in apples varies among varieties. For example, here’s how the eight types of apples in the study ranked in terms of antioxidants, from those containing the most to the least:
- Red Delicious
- Northern Spy
- Ida Red
- Golden Delicious
3. Munching on an apple can help prevent cavities. According to the American Dental Association, apples' high water content and fiber help balance the natural sugars they contain. And chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which washes away food particles and acids to help clean teeth.
4. Apples may lower the risk of chronic diseases. Numerous studies have found apples can play an important role in preventing a variety of chronic health conditions. In a comprehensive review of a variety of these studies, published in Advances in Nutrition, apples (and in some cases, apple products) showed promise in lowering the risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, asthma, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Apple eating can help with weight-related problems. And not just because they’re low in calories, high in fiber and have no fat. In 2014, a Washington State University study found that certain non-digestible compounds in apples benefit the growth of friendly bacteria in the colon. According to the researchers, these bacteria can help prevent chronic inflammation and metabolic disorders that are often caused by obesity. Granny Smiths did the best job of balancing out bacteria.
6. Apples are a sponge for pesticides. They’re number one on the Environmental Working Group’s list of Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables. That doesn't mean they're unsafe to eat, though — even the EWG has noted the benefits of eating fruits outweighs the risk of pesticide exposure. But you might consider buying organic apples if your kids love apples and your budget allows it.