Beyond its fabulous flavor and perfect portability, this fruit packs major health benefits. Here, the lowdown on why you should be getting a daily dose
1. They’re Slow Food
Firm and packed with fiber (5 grams, or 20 percent of your daily value), they demand a chewing commitment, giving your body time to register itself “full” before you scarf down too many calories.
And the natural sweeteners in apples enter the bloodstream gradually, helping keep your blood sugar and insulin levels steady so you feel full longer — the opposite of many sugary snacks, which produce a quick rush followed by a hunger-inducing crash.
2. They Help You Breathe Easy
Kids of women who ate the most apples while pregnant were less likely to wheeze or develop asthma by age 5, researchers from the United Kingdom found recently. The fruit may also protect the lungs of adults, lowering the risk of asthma, lung cancer, and other diseases.
3. They Zap Cholesterol
Thanks to two key components, pectin (a type of fiber) and polyphenols (powerful antioxidants), apples can take a bite out of blood cholesterol levels and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol — the chemical process that turns it into artery-clogging plaque. The trick to maximizing the benefit: Don’t toss the peel; apple skin has two to six times the antioxidant compounds as the flesh.
4. They Fight Cancer
Lab studies have shown that several compounds in this juicy fruit curb the growth of cancer cells — but they’re most potent when the apple is eaten whole (minus the stem and seeds, of course).
People who munch more than one a day lower their risk for several cancers (oral, esophageal, colon, breast, ovarian, prostate, and others) by 9 to 42 percent, Italian researchers found.
5. They Make You Smarter
Possibly because they boost the production of acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits messages between nerve cells, apples are now thought to keep your brain sharp as you age, enhance memory, and potentially lessen the odds of getting Alzheimer’s disease, suggests one recent animal study from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. With this sort of nutritious nosh at your disposal, it might be time to rethink the idea of a “smart cookie.”