In Celtic mythology, apples are said to be the “Fruit Of The Gods And Immortality.“
One well-known saying is, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” However, this should be changed to “An apple a day keeps the mortician away.“
Apples have very little fat and high in carbohydrates. They are rich in vitamin C and E, potassium, magnesium, fiber, antioxidants, and ursolic acid ( a compound with anti‑inflammatory, antioxidative, antiapoptotic, and anti-carcinogenic properties).
Many fruits are healthy for you, but why is there much emphasis on apples’ health benefits?
The answer may be because apples may be the only fruit that can be stored for an extended period and still keep all their nutrition value intact.
For example, studies have shown that most known apple brands maintained their phytochemical nutrient levels even after 52 weeks of storage in controlled conditions.
And in general, even after 200 days of storage, apples have the same phenolic levels (compounds with potent antioxidant abilities) as when they were first harvested.
The antioxidant activity found in an apple with the peel intact has the same potency as 1500 mg of vitamin C.
This article will delve into apples’ major essential components and their health benefits.
Why Are Apples Good For You?
For starters, one medium-sized raw apple contains the following nutritional content: (Source, USDA)
- calories – 104
- fat – 0.34 g
- carbohydrates – 27.6 g
- protein – 0.52 g
Apples Are An Excellent Source Of Boron
Apples are one of the top foods that contain boron, a vital micronutrient mineral.
Boron has some incredible health benefits for the body. I wrote a previous article on it, and you can read it here.
Here are some of the boron’s benefits:
- improves brain function
- enhances athletic performance
- helps with arthritis
- boosts the immune system
- wound healing
- for bone health
Indirectly, apples provide you with these benefits due to their much boron content.
They Contain Pectin
A study published on May 22, 2020, stated that “Apples are the richest source of pectin compared to other fruits and vegetables.”
- reduces high sugar levels
- is an anti-inflammatory
- regulates cholesterol
- prevents colon cancer
- immunomodulator (regulates the immune system)
- anticoagulant (can stop blood clots)
- antitussive (prevents coughing)
Apples Are Overflowing With Potent Antioxidants
Apples are full of beneficial antioxidants. Here is a list of some of the most found in apples:
Per 100 g:
- quercetin glycosides, 13.2 mg
- vitamin C, 12.8 mg
- procyanidin B, 9.35 mg
- chlorogenic acid, 9.02 mg
- epicatechin, 8.65 mg
- phloretin glycosides, 5.59 mg
Other antioxidants have been well-researched in apples, which include:
- coumaric acid
- gallic acid
These are very potent and beneficial antioxidants. Below is a breakdown of some of them.
Gallic acid has many beneficial effects:
- can fight bacteria and viruses
- is anti-cancer
- protects from gastrointestinal diseases
- for cardiovascular diseases
- Alzheimer’s disease
Procyanidins are components found in apple polyphenols (compounds that act as antioxidants). There is evidence that these particular apple polyphenols are: (Source)
- anti-dental cavity
- life-extending effects
Incredibly, studies suggest that these polyphenol benefits are attributable to the procyanidins found in the apples.
Apples contain phloridzin. Researchers discovered it in 1835 in numerous parts of an apple tree.
Phloridzin is a potent sodium-dependent glucose transporter 1 (SGLT1) inhibitor and is the major dihydrochalcone (DHC) found in apples.
DHCs have many health benefits, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial (fights viruses and bacteria), cytotoxic (kills harmful cells), and antispasmodic (preventing muscle spasms).
SGLT1 is a glucose (sugar) transporter in the small intestines. Inhibiting SGLT1 helps to control hyperglycemia (high sugar levels) in people with diabetes.
Apples are rich in quercetin and its derivatives. One hundred grams of fruit will give you 13.2 mg.
One medium-sized apple is about 182 grams. So, you will get close to 20 mg of quercetin per medium-sized apple.
Most of the quercetin content is found in the skin of apples. This not only applies to quercetin, but apples’ full antioxidant strength is found in their skin – up to two to six times greater than the flesh part.
Here are some of quercetin’s health benefits:
- anti-carcinogenic (inhibits the development of cancer)
- ergogenic (may enhance physical performance)
- nootropic (may improve mental performance)
- psychostimulant activities (stimulates the central nervous system) (1)
Apples Have A Low Glycemic Index Value
The Glycemic Index Scale is as follows:
Low: 55 or less
Mid: 56 – 69
This scale is how foods are ranked to determine how slow or fast they raise your body’s sugar level once you eat them.
The glycemic index of apples is between 32 and 38. This is low. That means when you eat one, your sugar level will not spike.
An apple is perfect if you are looking for longer-lasting energy, and not just a quick burst that you may get from a piece of candy.
The low glycemic level of apples is also beneficial for people with diabetes because it helps control their sugar levels by inhibiting the dangerous spike.
Apples Are An Exceptional Source Of Beneficial Bacteria
Apples are an incredible source of beneficial bacteria. A study published on July 24, 2019, stated that the fruit pulp and the seeds contained the most bacteria, and the skin had a lesser amount.
In all, there are over 100 million healthy bacterial cells in a single apple, which includes the seeds.
The study also emphasized that the bacteria consist of different strains, making it more broad-spectrum to human health. The major bacteria strains were:
- Proteobacteria (80%)
- Bacteroidetes (9%)
- Actinobacteria (5%)
- Firmicutes (3%)
It should be noted that these bacteria match the major bacteria that is already naturally found in your intestines.
Interestingly, the results of the study showed that the seeds contained most of these bacteria. So, people should also eat the seeds to gain the full spectrum of health benefits from apples.
The bacteria from apples are essential to your gut microbiome (human digestive tract). The gut microbiome contains many bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.
Some are harmful bacteria, and some are beneficial. When the harmful bacteria take control of your gut microbiome, all kinds of health issues begin to happen.
The objective is to lower the level of harmful bacteria and replenish the microbiome with healthy bacteria, such as probiotics.
The different and diverse bacteria in apples are similar to probiotics. A healthy gut microbiome equals a healthier you.
Birgit Wassermann, Ph.D, said this:
- “…consuming the diversity of strains of bacteria found in apples can provide your gut with diverse microbes, which is essential for gut health.“
One apple contains over 100 million bacterial cells. Eating one will surely help replenish your gut and maintain a healthy balance.
Apple Seeds Contain High Levels Of Antioxidants
Studies show that the seeds of an apple are significantly higher in beneficial antioxidants than its peel and flesh.
Phloridzin was found to be the main phenolic compound in the seeds, with its contents being 240.45 – 864.42 mg/100 grams of dry weight. Phloridzin was mentioned earlier, and it is a potent antioxidant with many health benefits.
Can Eating The Seeds In An Apple Kill You?
There is misinformation on the internet, claiming that apple seeds can kill you because they contain cyanide, a known potent poison.
Reports claim that a compound found in apple seeds called “amygdalin,” when swallowed, will contact certain enzymes in your gut and produce hydrogen cyanide, which in high levels will seriously harm or even kill you. (Source at lines 317-323, they recommend removing the seeds before eating an apple).
Other sources claim that a lethal dose would be to chew 200 apple seeds. (1) The math that was used to conclude that only 200 crushed seeds can kill you appears to be incorrect.
If the appropriate math is applied, an average adult that weighs 70 kilos/154 lbs would have to consume almost 2000 crushed apple seeds even to have a chance of getting sick. And that is a BIG MAYBE. (Explanation at the end of this section)
There are about five to eight seeds in an apple. You would have to eat 250 to 400 apples and chew all the seeds, which is impossible to do with your teeth, to get sick or die possibly. And this has to be done continually, which is another impossible task.
Whole, unbroken seeds pass right through your digestive tract. There is no possible way that eating an apple or even ten in one day, including the seeds, can cause you any harm.
A more recent study published on May 25, 2020 stated the following:
- “… that 4 g of amygdalin per day after oral administration in human is enough to cause systemic toxicity.” (See Section 4 “Cyanide toxicity from Amygdalin“)
The seeds in one apple contain 1-4 milligrams of amygdalin. If it takes 4 grams of oral administration per day to cause poisoning, how can 1 to 4 milligrams found in one apple’s seeds hurt you?
You would have to eat approximately 1,000 to 4,000 apples per day to be poisoned.
With all due respect to all the websites on the internet that are making erroneous assertions that you should not eat the seeds in an apple or that 200 seeds will kill you, you are way off and need to provide the correct information.
Here is another source of the correct information on how many apple seeds may be lethal, and agree with my calculations. It states:
- “…for the standard human of 70 kg, about 70 mg of CN⁻ are lethal. I.e. eating (and chewing) 350 – 1170 g of apple seeds, which translates to roughly 13000 – 44000 seeds.“
This is a lot more than 200 apple seeds claimed by Healthline.
Some people are allergic to apples, so they should not be eaten by those who have adverse reactions.
Apples are highly acidic, and eating them daily can hurt your teeth by slowly eroding the dentine covering your teeth. It is suggested that you rinse your mouth out with water after eating an apple and wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
Eating apples can increase plaque build-up on your teeth and irritate your gums. It is again suggested to rinse with water after eating an apple or eat cheese or drink some milk to neutralize the apple’s acids.
The entire apple, including the seeds, provide many health benefits for you.
They are excellent for controlling sugar levels, for the heart, cholesterol, and much more.
They are a powerhouse of potent antioxidants and beneficial bacteria.
Apples are not a cure to diseases, but adding them to your diet can help you stay healthier and extend your life.