Posted on Mon, 14 Nov 11
Increasingly, foods are being marketed based on dubious health claims. However it is sometimes the most inexpensive, natural and unassuming foods that have the strongest health benefits, take apples for example.
Compared to other fruits, apples are remarkably rich in phytochemicals which may confer several important health benefits. Apple phytochemicals have been studied for their health effects in a wide range of illnesses including cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, weight management and bone health.
A recent review summarised much of the experimental and human studies that support health benefits of the humble apple. Here are some of the highlights:
One or more medium-sized apples a day was associated with a reduction in risk of cancer compared to consumption of less than 1 apple a day. Cancers and risk reduction included; oral cavity and pharynx (18%), oesophagus (22%), colorectal (30%), larynx (41%), breast (24%), ovary (24%), and prostate (7%).
A small apple daily reduced deaths due to heart disease in women by 43% compared to women who did not eat apples. In men, the risk reduction was 19% for about half an apple a day compared to no apple intake.
After one month of eating approximately 1 small apple a day elderly age individuals increased their antioxidant defences, suggesting a protective effect against increased levels of oxidative stress associated with chronic age related disease.
Amongst some 68,535 women, those with the highest intake had a significantly lower incidence of asthma.
There was a 28% lower risk of type 2 diabetes associated with the consumption of 1 apple a day compared to no apple consumption.
As a before meal snack, 1-2 apples a day resulted in a significant weight loss of 1.32 kg after 10 weeks.
So perhaps there is something to the old (circa 1866) Welsh proverb “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread."
Hyson DA. A Comprehensive Review of Apples and Apple Components and Their Relationship to Human Health. Adv. Nutr. 2: 408–420, 2011.