What goes great in a pie, comes in lots of different colors, and is said that eating one keeps the doctor away?
Apples, of course!
And why not? These juicy, crisp fruits make for the perfect raw snack. You can also dehydrate them and make beautiful Christmas ornaments.
Not only are they fun to eat, but they also hold some powerful nutrients that your body needs. December holds a special place on the calendar for apples, celebrating National Eat a Red Apple Day on its very first day.
You can start the month and end the year on a healthy note by eating a red apple a day. But why red apples?
The Health Benefits of Apples
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” If you’ve been around long enough you’ve likely heard this expression before. But what does it mean?
This saying is known as an aphorism, which simply means an observation that holds a general truth.
What is it about an apple that would keep someone healthy enough to stay out of the doctor’s office? Apples are a pome fruit (1), along with pears, nashi (Asian pear) and quince (pronounced “kwins”, similar to a pear). They belong to the plant family Rosaceae and have been cultivated for thousands of years because they are easy to access, produce abundantly, and have a wide range of uses.
Check out these exceptional health benefits of apples:
- Nutrient dense: In general, apples are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. A medium apple has about 100 calories, making it a great addition to your meal plan. Vitamins like E, C, B1 and B6 help fuel your metabolism and protect your cells from oxidative damage (2, 4).
- May encourage gut health: If you’ve ever made jams or jellies, you may have had to use something called pectin. This is a dietary fiber that acts like a prebiotic, and apples are full of them. Prebiotics like pectin have been shown to offer anti-inflammatory benefits (8), which is critical to staying disease-free.
- Helps with asthma: While more research is needed, apples have displayed impressive qualities when it comes to calming irritated lung pathways. Dust and harmful molecules can cause lung irritation and an allergic reaction, but a compound in apples called proanthocyanins (12) may calm inflammation and prevent your body from having an asthma attack.
- Keeps cancer growth at bay: Antioxidants are the superheroes when it comes to fighting cancers off. Apples have polyphenols and flavonoids, which could help protect you against breast, lung, and digestive cancers, with one study reporting a link between apple consumption and lowered risk of dying from cancer (11).
- May offer cognitive protection: Brain function disorders are growing rapidly, and much of the damage comes from oxidative stress (13). Apples contain a flavonoid called quercetin which has been shown to help prevent this type of damage, along with nervous system damage (14).
- Supports heart health: Strokes, heart attacks, and high blood pressure all contribute to heart disease — one of the leading causes of death, both in the United States and around the world (5). The soluble fiber of apples can help lower the bad cholesterol levels that lead to artery blockage. The polyphenols and flavonoids have also been shown to lower your blood pressure, reducing your chances of experiencing a stroke (6,7).
- Associated with a lowered risk for diabetes: Eating enough fiber is important in being able to balance your blood sugar levels (9). Apples help make that easy, with studies showing that eating apples regularly can decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 18% (10).
Who would have thought this little round fruit could pack such a punch!
Now you may be wondering, are red apples better than green apples? That depends on how you like your apples.
Green apples tend to have a tougher skin and can be a bit on the sour side. Red apples, however, are usually sweeter with a thin skin. That said, you may want to experiment with a few different kinds to see which ones you like the best.
Fun fact: did you know that the “apple a day…” saying changed from its original statement in 1913? The original message was found in 1866 in a British publication which read, “Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread” (3).
Ways to Celebrate
So you’re off to the store to pick up some delicious red apples. And while eating one of the way home is all fine and good, surely there’s got to be other ways you can eat apples.
Here are a few fun ways to enjoy your red apples:
- Slice and slather with your favorite nut butter
- Pair with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese
- In addition to nut butter, add a dollop of orange marmalade
- Drizzle on some plain yogurt and honey. Add a pinch of cinnamon for a burst of flavor!
- Try dipping in cream cheese and sweet pickled relish if you’re feeling bold
- Wrap a slice in cooked bacon and eat with a leaf of arugula
Back to You
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Red apples are a delicious way to easily incorporate more vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants into your diet. And these are all things that help you stay sharp, agile, and out of the doctor’s office.
If you missed National Eat a Red Apple Day, don’t worry. You can enjoy these pome fruits any day of the week – with friends or by yourself!
What are ways you enjoy eating apples? Let us know on our Facebook page — we’d love to hear from you!
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author