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Apples fight disease in 3 different ways

Apples fight disease in 3 different ways

Autumn brings brisk days, blue skies, bright sunshine and blazing displays of colored foliage.  And, nothing encapsulates the taste of this beautiful season quite like the flavor and crunch of a ripe, perfect apple.  Whether you prefer sweet Fuji apples, the classic Red Delicious variety or the tart Granny Smith, biting into a fresh apple is a definite win/win.

Apples are not only delicious, but they are rich in fiber and antioxidants – both of which support health and help to prevent illness.  In fact, a recent review highlights the role of a disease-fighting constituent in apples known as chlorogenic acid.  (You won’t believe what this natural plant compound can do!)

“Superstar” compound chlorogenic acid protects against heart disease

While chlorogenic acid may not sound particularly appetizing, preliminary studies show that it may have extremely beneficial effects.  A 2020 review published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety credited 5-CQA, a specific type of chlorogenic acid found in apples, with antioxidative capacities that prevent cell damage, protect against inflammatory stress and act against obesity and metabolic syndrome - well-known risk factors for heart disease.  In addition, chlorogenic acid in apples lowers blood pressure by improving endothelial function and increasing the bioavailability of beneficial nitric oxide.

Plus, the US Department of Agriculture reports that a medium-sized apple contains 4.4 grams of healthy soluble and insoluble fiber.  Dietary fiber helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the linings of blood vessel walls, therefore protecting against artery-clogging atherosclerosis.

And, the proof is in the pudding – or, the apple.  A 2020 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that apples helped to reduce risk of heart disease!  The scientists found that participants who ate two apples a day experienced lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (fats) in the blood.

Apples support a healthy immune system

As flu season approaches, it’s important to make sure your immune system is in gear and that immune defenses are at the ready.  Apples may help you achieve this.  Early studies have shown that diets high in soluble fiber (the type found in apples) can convert immune system cells from “pro-inflammatory” to “anti-inflammatory” status, thereby promoting immunity.

Apples also contain a flavonoid known as quercetin, which appears to have antiviral effects.  While more study is needed, researchers think quercetin may work by modulating the immune system and preventing viral entry into the cells.  Quercetin also helps the body absorb zinc, a disease-fighting essential mineral which helps to prevent viral replication.

Finally, apples contain vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant and immune system booster.

Apples help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease currently affects 6 million Americans, with experts expecting this number to more than double by the year 2050.  Research has shown that 5-CQA in apples lowers the risk of neurodegenerative conditions - such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease - by inhibiting harmful enzymes and suppressing oxidative damage to brain cells.

And, it’s not just 5-CQA that benefits brain health.  Recent reviews have shown that quercetin in apples also protects brain cells from oxidative damage.

A new study shows that adults aged 50 and over who ate limited amounts of flavonoid-rich foods, such as apples, had between two and four times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia over the next 20 years than people who obtained larger amounts of flavonoids through diet.

Versatile apples “play well” with other foods

The sweetness, freshness and crunchiness of apples makes them a perfect addition to salads – and they don’t have to be confined to the famed Waldorf salad.  Apples can also enliven salads built around arugula, kale or spinach, and can add a note of unexpected sweetness to a chef’s salad.

For a decadently rich and satisfying snack, you can bake apples and serve them with a wedge of Brie garnished with roasted almonds.  Of course, apples and cinnamon are also a classic addition to oatmeal - and work with yogurt as well.  Apples can be sliced and dipped in caramel sauce or peanut butter, made into applesauce, used to enrich smoothies and baked into pies, crisps and turnovers.

Finally, apples can be enjoyed “solo” - after careful washing, that is.  For maximum benefit, seek out organic apples, and do not remove the peels.  The “lion’s share” of the beneficial constituents are in - or near - the skin.

Store apples in plastic bags in the crisper of the fridge, where they can last for up to three months.

In addition to their other benefits, apples – with their healthy content of chlorogenic acid and quercetin - protect against fatty liver disease and help guard against cancer.  They also have a regulating effect on blood glucose, thereby working against diabetes.  (In short, apples help to protect practically every part of the body against potentially life-threatening diseases)!  Beyond a doubt, apples are an incredible addition to your healthy daily diet.

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