Food Science with Foley: An Apple a Day

Elizabeth Health Professional

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“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a common saying, and generally interpreted to mean that a healthy lifestyle or diet keeps you from getting sick. But did you know that apples have very specific benefits for your health? Apples are an excellent source of phytochemicals, which are biologically active compounds in food. These medicinal compounds come in many different forms, including flavonols and anthocyanins; anthocyanins are known for giving red and purple fruits and veggies their colorful hue. These phytochemicals are antioxidants which have positive effects on multiple aspects of health.

 

Apples have specifically been shown to be beneficial for individuals with Type II Diabetes, which is characterized by high glucose (sugar) levels and insulin resistance. Apple consumption is associated with a decreased risk of Type II Diabetes, and may also assist in bringing glucose levels down. Apple antioxidants from one apple a day or more have also been shown to be beneficial in reducing colorectal cancer risk and can also positively affect cancer-causing genes by deactivating their pathway!

 

But the health benefits don’t stop there. A study by our lab at FSU compared prunes and apples and their effect on cardiovascular health. The women in the apple group actually lost 3.3lb by the end of the study and experienced a significant decrease in total cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol; LDL cholesterol is associated with the development of atherosclerosis, the plaque that causes heart disease. All that is necessary to lose a couple pounds and decrease your atherogenic risk ratio is to eat the equivalent of two apples per day!

 

If you’re anything like me, your next question might be about hard apple cider. We are in luck: the phenolic profile of ciders mimics that of apples, except for anthocyanins. However, the phenolic content of these ciders varies significantly; unfortunately, I don’t which brands are healthiest. This means that when consumed in moderation, cider may actually have similar health benefits to those of regular apples!

 

Adding apples to your diet is a great way to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, and cancer, but sometimes eating two plain apples can get a little stale. Try adding peanut or almond butter to your apples for a delicious snack. You can also add apples to your cereal, oatmeal, or salad! Unsweetened applesauce is another great option but has more sugar per cup than a regular apple. If all else fails, try some new healthy recipes for apple pie or apple crisp that don’t use as much sugar as traditional recipes.

 

Happy apple picking!

 

Elizabeth Foley is an FSU Ph.D. Candidate in Nutrition and Food SciencePosts and blogs created by Elizabeth on the Wealth Meet Health community are for informational purposes only and are not meant to take the place of your relationship with a health professional. For personal health considerations, please consult a health professional directly.