An Apple a Day: 4 Nutritional Benefits of Fall's Favorite Fruit
'Tis the season for apple picking! During autumn, few things are more wonderful than the crunch of a fresh, ripe, delicious apple. Beyond its refreshing taste, you've likely heard that an apple has a lot to offer nutritionally.
That's right: The benefits of eating apples are undeniable! Thanks to all of the flavonoids, antioxidants, and dietary fiber contained inside an apple, it makes for the perfect snack. Here are four benefits that apples provide, as well as some ideas for how you can include the fruit in every meal.
1. They Keep Your Heart Healthy
Several studies have found that apples contain compounds that lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and prevent inflammation. In a study led by Florida State University, women who ate apples daily reduced their LDL cholesterol 23 percent and experienced a 4 percent increase in favorable HDL cholesterol.
And it doesn't stop there. Eating an apple a day can actually reduce your risk of dying early by 35 percent, according to a study by the University of Western Australia. This may be because of their high levels of fiber, which has been linked to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of developing cancer, explains The Telegraph. For a boost of protein and fiber to start your day, add half of a diced apple to your oatmeal and top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt.
2. They Help You Stay Fuller Longer
As we alluded to in the previous section, one of the great benefits of eating apples is that they provide you with more than 4 grams of tummy-filling fiber. It seems that our bodies take longer to digest the complex fiber contained in apples and other fruits and veggies, making it the perfect midday nosh.
Although each apple only contains about 95 calories, they can effectively help satisfy hunger cravings. In the study led by Florida State University, it was found that women who incorporated dried apples into their diets lost weight and lowered their risk of developing heart disease. Researchers surmised that the antioxidants, as well as pectin (fiber found in fruits, veggies, and seeds), were responsible for the positive effects. Instead of hitting the vending machine at work, grab an apple and add some crunchy peanut butter (or another nut butter) to a few slices!
3. They Can Boost Your Immune System
Before you assume oranges are your best bet for getting your daily dose of immune-system fighting power, you might want to compare them to apples. While citrus fruits tend to be far higher in vitamin C, apples still contain the immune-boosting vitamin — plus fiber. A study from the University of Illinois found that soluble fiber (the kind found in apples, oats, and nuts) can reduce the inflammation associated with obesity-related illnesses and strengthen immune systems.
When crafting your lunchtime salad, make sure that it has a good mix of fiber, protein, and carbs. Try adding garbanzo beans and chopped apples — instead of croutons — and top with grilled chicken or salmon. Toss with balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of olive oil. This combination is so tasty, it might just become a regular part of your diet!
4. They Provide Crucial Energy
At the end of a long day, getting to the gym may seem like a drag. Sometimes it's hard to muster the energy! Well, a medium-sized apple contains about 25 grams of carbohydrates — "arguably the most efficient source of energy for athletes," notes Verywell Fit. That's right; just one apple can provide you with that much-needed pre-gym energy boost! It might even help you last longer in the gym. An ingredient found in apples, called quercetin, has been found to help cyclists ride longer.
Don't have time to grab an apple before heading to the gym? It can also provide great recovery energy. If you're feeling drained after hitting the gym, simply slice an apple in half, core it, and add walnuts to the hole. Then sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey. Finally, bake on a lined cookie sheet in 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy!