- Apples benefit your gut health since they contain prebiotics that feed good gut bacteria.
- Apples also contain soluble and insoluble fiber which may help regulate bowel movements.
- Your immune system may also benefit from eating apples since they contain pectin.
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It turns out there may be some truth to the age old saying: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Loaded with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, apples come with various health benefits ranging from improving gut health to preventing chronic diseases.
Here are seven known health benefits of apples.
1. May improve gut health
There is good bacteria in your gut that helps keep digestive issues such as bloating at bay, and research shows that apples — particularly organic apples — can maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
“Apples contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber, which is a prebiotic. This feeds that good gut bacteria in your colon microbiome,” says Emily Rice, RD, staff dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
By feeding the good bacteria and helping it flourish, pectin in apples helps keep your gut healthy, resulting in benefits like regular bowel movements and increased immunity, says Rice.
2. May regulate bowel movements
One apple with its skin on contains around 4.5 grams of fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fiber, which have the following bowel benefits:
- Soluble fiber absorbs water and turns into a gel-like substance that can slow down digestion, preventing diarrhea.
- Insoluble fiber bulks up your stool and helps food pass quickly through your intestines, preventing constipation.
3. May lower blood pressure
Apples are not necessarily a rich source of potassium but if you consume them along with a diverse, healthy diet, the potassium in apples may help contribute to healthy blood pressure because of how it relaxes blood vessels walls, thus easing tension:
- A 2015 review of three studies found that people who ate more than four servings a week of whole fruits and vegetables, including apples, had a lower risk of high blood pressure than those who only ate whole fruits and vegetables once a month.
If you have
, lowering your blood pressure can prevent
, heart attacks, and strokes
4. May lower cholesterol
The soluble fiber in apples can help limit the amount of cholesterol absorbed into your bloodstream, which can lower your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, Rice says.
Lowering cholesterol in general reduces your risk of heart disease, strokes, type 2
, and high blood pressure.
A 2015 review found that there is a correlation between frequent consumption of apples and fewer cardiovascular disease risk factors, particularly cholesterol. Researchers also found that the prebiotics in apples may also play a role in preventing cardiovascular diseases.
5. May boost your immune system
Soluble fiber, such as the pectin found in apples, may strengthen your immune system, says Allison Childress, PhD, RDN, dietitian and assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University.
“Soluble fiber increases the production of protein interleukin-4 which stimulates T-cells. T-cells play a critical role in our immunity to pathogens,” says Childress.
A 2020 review found that pectin can improve your intestinal immune barrier, which can further protect you from infections in the gut.
6. May be diabetes-friendly
Thanks to their fiber, apples have a low glycemic index, meaning they’re unlikely to cause blood sugar spikes, making them a healthy option for people with diabetes.
Apples have a GI of about 28. For comparison a glass of apple juice, which lacks fiber, has a GI of about 44.
In addition to being a healthy option for those with diabetes, apples may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes in the first place:
- A 2005 study linked apples specifically to a lower diabetes risk, finding that those who ate one apple a day had a 28% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who ate no apples.
7. May prevent free radical damage
Apples are rich in polyphenols, which are plant chemicals loaded with antioxidants.
Childress says these polyphenols can help protect the body from cell damage caused by free radicals, and may help prevent conditions such as:
- Heart diseases
- Eye diseases
It’s important to note that the majority of the antioxidant content comes from the skin of the apples, Childress says, so you should avoid cutting off the skin.
8. May be beneficial for bone health
Eating apples may contribute to a higher bone mineral density, says Childress.
This can prevent osteoporosis, which is when there is a deterioration of the bone structure that may lead to an increased risk of broken bones.
This is because the vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and potassium found in apples can reduce the amount of calcium you lose from excretion, thus promoting bone health, says Rice.
A 2012 review found a link between higher fruit intake and higher bone density and bone strength, with apples specifically being one of the fruits studied. It’s believed that the bone benefits of fruit intake are related to antioxidants and other bioactive compounds found in fruit.
Regularly eating apples, along with other healthy whole foods, can contribute to better overall health and reduced risk of developing certain chronic health conditions.
Always aim to eat a variety of colorful foods to reap a variety of benefits. When consuming apples, Rice says to eat them whole, opposed to apple juice or sauce, since eating apples in their natural form preserves more of their nutrients, so you can get the most out of your snack.