Apples: Health benefits and risks from their consumption
Apples are one of the most popular fruits with many health benefits, supported by many research results.
Apples (Malus domestica) belong to the group of pome fruits of the Rosaceae family to which belong, apart from apples, pears, apple pear, loquats, and quinces. The family Rosaceae is divided into 3 groups: the pome fruits, the berries (blueberries, strawberries, etc.), and stone fruits (eg apricots, cherries, etc.).
A medium apple is equivalent to 1.5 cups of fruit. A typical 2.000 calorie diet recommends 2 cups of fruit daily (less than 1.5 apples).
Apple also contains other minerals such as copper and iron and vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and B6 as well as micronutrients such as choline.
Apples are also a rich source of polyphenols. These plant compounds are probably responsible for many of apple's health benefits. Apple peel contains half the fiber content and many polyphenols.
Health benefits of eating apples
Apples and weight loss
Apples are high in fiber and water - two properties that make them satiating. In one study, participants who ate an apple before a meal felt more satiated than those who drank apple juice or did not eat an apple at all. In the same study, they found that those who started their meal with an apple ate an average of 200 fewer calories than those who did not eat an apple.
In another study, 50 overweight women added either apple or oats to their diet for 10 weeks. Both apple and oats had similar calorie and fiber content. Women who ate apples lost an average of 1 kilogram more than those who ate oats, while women who ate apples were found to consume fewer calories overall.
Researchers believe that apples are more satiating because they are less rich in energy and at the same time contain a large amount of fiber.
In addition, some natural substances contained in apples can promote weight loss. In a study in obese experimental animals (mice) it was found that those who ate an apple and apple juice lost more weight and had lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol than mice in the control group.
Apples and Cardiovascular System
Consumption of apples has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. One reason may be that apples contain soluble fibers, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels. They also contain polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. A large percentage of polyphenols are concentrated in the peel.
One of these polyphenols is a flavonoid called epicatechin (still found in tea and cocoa), which can lower blood pressure. An analysis showed that high flavonoid intake was associated with a 20% lower risk of stroke. Flavonoids can help prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing LDL oxidation, and acting as antioxidants.
Another study compared the effects of eating an apple a day with taking statins, which are mainstream drugs used to lower cholesterol. In this study, it was found that apples are almost as effective in reducing death caused by heart disease as statins (and without their side effects).
In another study, consumption of white vegetables and fruits, such as apples and pears, was associated with a reduced risk of stroke. For every 25 grams of fruit and vegetables consumed, the risk of stroke was reduced by 9%.
Apples and Diabetes
Several studies have linked apple consumption to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In one large study, eating one apple a day was associated with a 28% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who did not eat an apple. Even eating just a few apples a week had a similar protective effect.
It is possible that polyphenols in apples help prevent beta-cell damage to the pancreas. Beta cells produce insulin and are often destroyed in people with type 2 diabetes.
Apples and Intestinal Microbiome
Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are the polysaccharide fibers used as food (after their breakdown into glucose molecules) by bacterial populations in the gut. The small intestine does not absorb these fibers during digestion and absorption. The fibers go to the large intestine where they promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal microbiome. Fiber can also be converted to other useful compounds circulating in the body.
New studies show that the effect of apples on the intestinal microbiome may be the real reason for the protective action of apples on health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Apples are one of the best representatives of the Microbiome Diet, the diet that focuses on the health of the intestinal microbiome.
Apples and Cancer
Several studies have shown an association between eating apples and a lower risk of cancer, such as a study in women that correlated apple consumption with lower rates of cancer death (of all forms).
The consumption of apples can reduce the risk of cancer by various mechanisms, including their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Apples and Asthma
Rich in antioxidants apples can help protect the lungs from oxidative damage. In a large study of more than 68.000 women, it was found that those who ate more apples had the lowest risk of developing asthma. Eating 1/4 of a large apple a day was associated with a 10% lower risk of developing asthma.
Apple peel contains a flavonoid called quercetin which can help (1) regulate the immune system and (2) reduce the inflammatory response. These are the two mechanisms by which apple consumption affects asthma and allergic reactions.
Apples and Bone health
Fruit consumption is associated with higher bone density, the measurement of which is an indicator of bone health. Researchers believe that the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances contained in fruits help increase bone density and strength.
Some studies show that apples can have a positive effect on bone health. In one study, two groups of women ate a meal that included fresh apples or no apple products, respectively. Those who ate apples lost a lesser amount of calcium from their bodies than the control group.
Apples and Stomach protection
Taking a class of painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause damage to the stomach epithelium.
An animal study found that apple extract helped stomach cells protect from NSAID damage. Chlorogenic acid and catechin were the two substances that had the most protective effects.
Apples and Aging
Most studies focus on the usefulness of the whole apple (skin and flesh). However, apple juice may also have benefits in slowing down the decline of age-related mental functions. In animal studies, apple juice reduced harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) in brain tissue and minimized cognitive decline. Apple juice can help maintain acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that decreases with age. Low levels of acetylcholine are associated with Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers also found that in experimental animals, a memory index was restored to the level of younger animals after a period of consuming apples.
Whole apples contain the same compounds as apple juice. Eating whole fruit is always a better choice than juice.
Consumption of apples is associated with a lower risk of many serious diseases.
Apples (8) have over 7500 different cultivated varieties with different characteristics. The varieties are divided into three main categories: the varieties with apples that are eaten as fruit, the varieties with apples for cooking, and the varieties for the production of apple cider vinegar which are usually very sour and astringent to eat fresh but give apple cider vinegar a richer taste than others apples cannot. Some of the most popular apple varieties are Gala, Fuji (here belongs the Granny Smith), Belfort, Red Delicious (here belongs the Starkin), Golden Delicious, Firiki, etc. The varieties are often grouped into "summer "and" autumn ", depending on when the fruits ripen.
Apples are valuable as fresh fruit, but can still be consumed in jams, jellies, vinegar (apple cider vinegar), and products containing apple cider vinegar, some mayonnaise, fresh juice, apple puree, wine, cider, liqueurs, and sweets. They can be grilled, fried, cooked, dried, seasoned, candied, or used in chutney. Pectin is derived from apples. Pectin is a polysaccharide used as a thickener in jams, jellies, candies, other sweets, medicines, as a stabilizer in juices and dairy products, as a glue in cigars, and as a source of dietary fiber. From the seeds of the apple is produced an edible oil (which is also used as an illuminant).
The following apple allergens have been identified: Mal d 1, Mal d 2, Mal d 3, Mal d 4, Bet v 6. Apple peel like other fruits of the Rosaceae family has higher allergenicity than puree. Some of the proteins responsible for the occurrence of food hypersensitivity are heat-sensitive (so they are destroyed by boiling) while others are heat-resistant. There are also differences in the degree of their resistance to digestion. Different varieties of apples may contain different amounts of allergens, while an important factor is even the degree of ripeness of the fruit or the way it is stored, or even the place in which it grows on the tree! Extensive cross-reactivity between different species of the Rosaceae family is expected. Other possible cross-reactions due to similarities in apple proteins can be observed with kiwi, carrot, and celery.
Food intolerance to apples (Code 8) is tested on Trophoscan® 10+, 40+, 100 (Mediterranean), 200, 300, and 400 as well as Trophoscan® Asian, Vegetarian, and Kids. Apple’s antigens have been isolated without prior heat treatment* of the antigens.
Diagnostiki Athinon's TrophoScan® is the most valid, reliable, and effective way to test food intolerances, by measuring the levels of total IgG antibodies in the blood against potentially allergenic foods. The presence of these antibodies has been associated with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (irritable bowel, celiac disease, and other disorders), migraines and other neurological disorders, disorders of the immune system (autoimmune diseases, susceptibility to infections, etc.), obesity and weight loss difficulty, skin diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthralgias, and other chronic diseases.
TrophoScan® has been designed and created entirely by Diagnostiki Athinon. The food antigens used for the test have come from Greek products and from products that we can find and consume in the Greek market. Various studies have shown that there is a difference in the antigenic composition of food depending on the variety of food. Even the maturity of a fruit or vegetable can play a role in the antigenic composition.
*The heat treatment of antigens we use in Diagnostiki Athinon before the isolation of the antigens is a unique process before the beginning of the process of isolation of food proteins. It is made in foods that are commonly cooked (e.g., meat, poultry, fish) and undergo a thermal laboratory preparation equivalent to cooking, so that their antigenicity is even closer to the actual antigenic structure of the food we consume.
Antigens isolated in this way have been proven to be more effective (making the ELISA system much more sensitive) in recognizing and binding antibodies of all classes (IgA, IgG, IgE, IgM). Only TrophoScan® test of food intolerance across Europe uses this approach to the investigation of Food Intolerance. Food processing results in the formation of neo-allergens.