“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” may not sound like the most credible medical advice, but a recent study out of the UK found that the old adage may have some merit; there really are health benefits of apples.
In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers from the University of Oxford discovered that prescribing an apple a day to people 50 and older could prevent up to 8,500 deaths from cardiovascular disease — including heart attack and stroke — each year.
Researchers say that apple-eating had a similar effect on reducing heart disease risk as daily statin treatment, but with fewer side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, long-term statin use can lead to muscle pain, liver damage, digestive problems, and increased blood sugar – which can in turn increase risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The team of researchers concluded that small dietary changes, like eating more fruit, can help to delay or reduce mortality from heart disease.
Myriad health benefits of apples
Improving your heart health is just one way that the humble apple can help you stay well. Apples provide a powerful punch of nutrition in a small, healthy package.
A medium-sized apple counts as one cup of fruit — half of the daily amount of fruit that adults need in a 2,000-calorie diet. Apples are also a good source of vitamin C, providing 14 percent of the total recommended daily value. What’s more, apples are among the few foods you can eat more of to lose weight — they’re a sweet, satisfying snack that delivers less than 100 calories per serving.
Apples also contain quercetin, a type of flavonoid (a group of plant pigments that give fruits, vegetables, and flowers their color).
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants, and quercetin has both anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, quercetin may help protect against cancer, heart disease, hypertension, and even asthma and allergies.
How to eat more apples
A nutritious snack that improves your nutrition, promotes weight loss, and helps you exercise more efficiently — how can you get more of that? While an apple is easy enough to eat on its own, having a variety of ways to enjoy apples can help you add more of them to your diet.
While you may think of apples as mainly a between-meal food, there are many creative ways to use apples in recipes at every meal. Try these tips and apple-based recipes from Eating Well to expand your repertoire:
- Start your day with apples. While fruit salad is always a winner at breakfast, don’t stop there when it comes to eating apples. Get creative with a Triple-Layered Apple Breakfast Sandwich. If you prefer something even more luxurious, try this Baked Apple-Cinnamon French Toast recipe.
- Add apples for lunch. For midday fare, try Roasted Pumpkin-Apple Soup. The recipe makes about 12 one-cup servings, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers. The soup contains four large apples of the Empire, Braeburn, or Cameo variety. Add a Curried Scallion Appled Salad for a complete meal featuring your favorite fall fruit.
- Dinnertime apples. There’s no shortage of amazing dinner recipes that give apples a starring role. For starters, try Chicken and Spiced Apples for a savory-sweet meal. Apple-and-Fennel Roasted Pork Tenderloin is another delicious option.
- Twists on apple desserts. While old-fashioned apple pie is always a crowd-pleaser, you can up the ante after dinner with some new taste sensations. If you’re feeling festive, try Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Marshmallow Frosting. For something simpler but still a hit with all ages, bake some Apple-Cinnamon Fruit Bars.
Whether your goal is to decrease your risk of chronic diseases, get more antioxidants, lose weight, lower your cholesterol or glucose levels, get more vitamin C, or simply try some new recipes, apples are the way to go. This all-around fruit is good for what ails you — and all it takes is eating one a day.