As fall weather starts to billow in, so does its seasonal boon of fall fruits and vegetables. Winter squash boasts a wealth of antioxidants, and kale is a mineral density champ. The real unsung hero, however, is the cool crisp autumn apple. So cool in fact, that it is often overshadowed by today’s more acclaimed superfoods. Nonetheless, our little apple hosts some substantial health benefits of its own. Turns out the old axiom “an apple a day...” has some clout to it after all. Read on to learn more about the health benefits found in the everyday apple.
1) Supports Athletic Performance
Apples contain flavonoids—quercetin being one of them. Quercetin is a compound, also known as a phytochemical, found primarily in the peel of an apple. Quercetin has been linked to minimizing inflammation and scavenging unhealthy cells in the body. It has also been shown to support athletic performance in cyclist and treadmill runners by enhancing the body’s output of energy.,3,4 Apples are an easy whole food, plant-based source of quercetin.
2) Supports Healthy Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
Eating the whole apple has shown to help mitigate oxygen damage, or oxidization, to your healthy HDL cholesterol levels.5 Much of this is due to phytochemicals found in the peel of the apple. Pectin, the hearty fiber found in the apple, plays its own unique role. Pectin supports healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your body, and healthy cholesterol and triglycerides support healthy heart function.5
3) Promotes Cellular Protection
Flavonoids are the most common phytochemicals found in fruit, and this is where apples substantiate their nutritional worth. Flavonoids in apples have shown to help protect cells from daily oxidative stress.5 Oxidative stress (from exercise or from breathing in pollutants from your environment) is a natural process that occurs when cells die. Choosing fruits and veggies from all colors of the rainbow is a proactive way to support your body’s health. Throw a sliced apple in your next bowl of oatmeal or Vega One shake for added cell-protecting benefits.
For such an unassuming seasonal fruit, apples are worthy of adding to your regular recipe repertoire. With so many varieties grown worldwide—and most likely not far from home—keep your eyes peeled (pun intended!) for next week’s article on apple varieties and their best uses.
Whats your favorite way to enjoy the mighty apple?
About Megan Wollenberg, RHN
Megan Wollenberg is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and specializes in digestive health, and individualized nutrient dense diets. Passionate about food policy and local produce, she encourages getting back to basics when it comes to food. When she’s not tending her herb garden, she can be found cycling and stretching on her yoga mat.
- Awed, M. De Jager, A. Van Westing, J. (2000) Flavonoid and Chlorogenic Acid Levels in Apple Fruit: Characterization of Variation. Scientia Horticulturae, vol. 83, p 249-263. Accessed 9/9/13 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304423899001247
- Shaik, YB. Castellani, ML. Perrella, A. Conti, F. Salini, V. Tete, S. Madhappen, B.Vecchiet, J. De Lutis, MA. Caraffa, A. (2006) Role of Quercetin (natural compound) in Allergy and Inflammation. Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, vol. 20, p 47-52. Accessed 10/09/2013 from http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/18187018/reload=0;jsessionid=bgQ5OR3zQIXi0gs7Kg2t.28
- Nieman, D. Williams, A. Shanley, A. Jin, F. McAnulty, S. Triplett, T. Austin, M. Henson, D. (2010). Quercitin’s Influence on Exercise Performance and Muscle Mitochondrial Biogenesis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, p 338 – 345. Accessed 9/9/13 from http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/asu/f/Triplett_Travis_2010_Quercetins_Influence.pdf
- MacRae, H. Mefferd, K. (2006). Dietary Antioxidant Supplementation Combined with Quercetin Improves Cycling Time Trial Performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, Vol 16, No. 4. P 405-419. Accessed 9/9/13 from http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/asu/f/Triplett_Travis_2010_Quercetins_Influence.pdf
- Boyer, J. Hai Liu, R. (2004). Apple Phytochemicals and Their Health Benefits. Nutrition Journal. P 6-7. Accessed 9/5/13 from http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-3-5.pdf%C3%AF%C2%BF%C2%BD%C3%83%C5%93