Health Benefits of Apples

Apples are one of the very few foods specifically identified in large human studies as having the capacity to reduce the risk of disease. This is one of the health benefits of apples.

Usually these studies show that “fruits” generally were protective or “vegetables” collectively reduced a disease risk. But apples are different – they have been identified directly in a number of very important studies to help reduce disease risk.

Health Benefits of Apples regarding Cancer
Apples and compounds contained in apples – called flavonoids, have been linked to a reduced risk of lung cancer in a number of different human studies where large numbers of people were involved.

In one study, women who consumed at least one apple serving per day had a reduced lung cancer risk while a study from Hawaii showed apple intake was associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer in both males and females.

In fact, in the Hawaiian study, apples (along with onions and white grapefruit) reduced lung cancer risk by 40-50% in both men and women while no protective associations were seen for red wine, green or black tea.

Apples may also offer some protection against other types of cancer with a recent study showing the intake of apples was consistently associated with a reduction in risk.

Of course, in addition to eating apples we need to follow a healthy and varied diet that contains plenty of other plant foods like vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grain cereals, be physically active and avoid becoming overweight.

Health Benefits of Apples regarding Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in Australia, accounting for 36 per cent of all deaths in Australia in 2004. It kills one Australian every ten minutes.

Eating apples has been linked to a reduction in CVD risk of up to 22% in women who were part of a large survey conducted over a number of years. Two other studies of women also showed a reduction in heart disease risk with apples and the compounds found in apples.

Importantly men can also benefit from apple intake with apple flavonoids strongly linked to a reduced mortality from heart disease.

Health Benefits of Apples regarding Asthma and Lung Health
Asthma is a significant health problem in Australia with around 2 million people having the condition. An Australian study showed that eating whole apples protected against asthma – a finding that is consistent with a number of other studies. Plus, it seems that apples can help generally improve lung health – quite apart from asthma.

A new study also suggests that mothers who eat apples during pregnancy may protect their children from developing asthma later in life.

Health Benefits of apples regarding Diabetes
Just one apple a day resulted in a 28% reduction in risk for Type 2 Diabetes compared to those who did not eat apples in a large study. Along with another European study that also showed apples help to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes as well as the compounds found in apple skins, the message to include apples is compelling indeed.

Health Benefits of Apples regarding Weight Loss
A group of 400 overweight South American women with high blood cholesterol ate just one apple a day as part of a research study. They lost weight – as well as improving their overall health profile.

New exciting research on apples – Compounds in Apples

In 2007, researchers found a dozen different compounds in apple skin alone that have the capacity to slow the growth or even kill cancer cells.

This study involved taking extracts of the apple peel and adding them to various types of cancer cells in the laboratory and measuring the impact.

Apple peel extracts certainly have the ability to limit the growth of cancer cells – and in some cases actually lead to the death of cancer cells and while that doesn’t mean these compounds in apples would have this effect in the body, there is real potential.

Importantly these 2007 findings with apple peels are one of many that have shown apple extracts can have an impact on cancer cells in the laboratory. Other studies have provided similar findings on other types of cancer cells while complementary studies are trying to reveal just how apple extracts can impact cancer cells in this way.

In fact, the research suggests that compounds in apples may even have a role in cancer therapy as well as in the removal of potentially cancerous cells – meaning they may play both a therapeutic and a preventative role.

Of course, there is still much to learn about the way apples can improve our health – but with studies like these the future seems very bright – and the message is clear…

For further information, please refer to the 2008 Apple Report , 2009 Apple Report and the 2016 Apple Review by CSIRO.