You’ve heard the saying – “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”! While this might not be necessarily true, apples, in their raw state, are a highly nutritious food, and apple intake definitely comes with potential health benefits.
Apple Nutrition Facts And Health Benefits
Apples may be small, but they’re mighty when it comes to nutrition. They’re full of fiber, vitamin C, and certain antioxidants. This makes them not only the perfect fruit for a variety of snack opportunities, but also the perfect antidote to other not-so-savory food cravings. They may also help support healthy cholesterol levels.1
Apples Are Phytochemical Powerhouses
Apples contain numerous powerful antioxidant phytochemicals, including quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic acid. These non-nutrient plant compounds are one of the major factors that help make apples so protective against a variety of health conditions. The phytochemical levels remain in the apples even during storage. On the other hand, when apples are processed, the phytochemical levels drop off drastically.2 This is an example of where the whole, raw food in its natural state is more potent than its components.
Studies suggest that apples may help support health, particularly hearth health and healthy blood sugar levels. They’ve also been found to significantly decrease body mass index (BMI).3,4,5
Apple Nutrition Information: How Does Apple Nutrition Stack Up?
The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 2 cups of fruit each day. Most fruits consist largely of sugar and fiber, including pectin, that are fermented in the large intestine. They also often contain vitamin C and potassium.6 Eating a single large apple can provide you with as much as 20% of your recommended daily value of dietary fiber, 8% of your vitamin C, and 7% of your potassium.7 This is based on a 2,000-calorie diet.8
What Are Apples Made Out Of?
Apples are about 85% water by weight.9 The remainder includes 10% carbohydrate and 4% vitamins and minerals. More than half of the vitamin C and fiber are contained in the skin.10 In terms of natural sugar content, the carbohydrate content is made up of 6% fructose and 3% sucrose. Apples are naturally low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.11
How Much Should You Eat?
According to one small study, eating two apples a day may have a reductive effect on LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.12
Now, apples are not a high-calorie food, but eating 2 in a day boosts overall calorie intake by nearly 200. Thus, in order to see a beneficial effect on weight loss, you will need to replace other higher-calorie foods with those apples, not just supplement your diet with them.13
The high fiber in apples may help fill you up, while the polyphenols help boost your good gut bacteria. A healthier gut microbiome equals less hunger. But it also depends on which apples you are eating: Granny Smith apples contain the second highest level of polyphenols among all apple varieties.14
Among the phytochemicals, apples are a very significant source of both flavonoids and phenolic acids and contribute to reducing oxidative stress in the body.
Are Apples Weight-Loss-Friendly?
Benefits For Weight Loss
Based on a number of different factors, apples have been demonstrated to contribute to weight loss. These factors include caloric density and overall density as well as their placements on the satiety index and the glycemic index. Let’s take a closer look.
Low In Calories
Apples are among the most common low calorie foods. They’re not only low in calories; they also contain fewer calories per gram of food. A medium raw apple (with the skin intact) has 95 calories and contains about 4g of total dietary fiber.15,16 This low caloric density makes them weight-loss friendly. Compared with a handful of oatmeal cookies with a similar amount of calories and fiber, apples will contain fewer calories in each bite. This makes them great for supporting weight management.17
High Satiety Index
Apples are also high on the Satiety Index, a measurement of how filling a food is. At 197% on the index, apples are among the most filling foods, ranking just below boiled potatoes (323%), oranges (202%) and oatmeal (209%), and far outranking breakfast cereals (132% and below) and other snacks such as cookies (120%) and doughnuts (68%).18 One reason is because raw apples, along with the skin, take time and effort to chew and eat. As a result, you feel futter, faster.
Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index measures carbohydrates based on how rapidly they convert into glucose within the body. Pure sucrose (table sugar) is assigned a value of 100. A low glycemic index value refers to values below 55.
A whole medium apple has a low glycemic index value of 38. By comparison, oranges have a glycemic index value of 48 and bananas have a value of 52.19 The more refined and less whole the food, the higher its index value. Foods low on the index tend to help support weight loss. Foods higher on the scale may spike blood sugar levels, although they also aid in recovering energy after vigorous exercise.20
How To Incorporate Apples Into Your Diet
Apples are an incredibly versatile food. The best way to preserve the nutrients is to consume them raw. Keeping apples in cold storage may also help increase the content of those beneficial antioxidant polyphenols.21
Here are some ways to enjoy them raw:
- Dip in unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter to add some protein and good fat.22
- Add to a fresh salad to contribute crunch, color and some sweetness.23
- Pulse for a few seconds in your blender, then add cinnamon and nutmeg, to make a raw snack with an applesauce-like consistency.24
- Dehydrate them into apple chips topped with cinnamon. Be sure to dehydrate the apples at a low enough temperature so they technically remain raw.25
In addition to raw, apples can also be enjoyed in a number of other forms. In some cases, cooking softens the cell walls and aids in the absorption of polyphenols and carotenoids.26 Making baked goods from apples is a popular option too, although the fruit might lose nutrient value.
Nutrition From Whole Foods
With copious amounts of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, potent phytochemicals, and a moderately low calorie count, apples are nutritional powerhouses.
It would appear that eating a raw apple, skin intact, is more effective than eating it in any other form. You might consider packing a couple for work, throwing some in a fresh salad, or dipping them in nut butter.