The apple’s reputation of ‘keeping the doctor away’ is largely based on the whole fruit – flesh and skin. By removing the skin of an apple (Malus Domestica) you are removing most of the fruit’s many health benefits.
7 Reasons to Eat the Whole Apple
- Great source of pectin
- improves heart health
- can relieve constipation and diarrhea
- improves the quality of intestinal flora
- naturally detoxing
- protects against metabolic syndrome
- improves dental hygiene
Apples Are a Great Source of Pectin
Pectin is a type of soluble fiber found in the tissues and cell walls of all plants. The amount of pectin plants contain varies from one species to another. Apples contain some of the highest concentrations of pectin, and most of it is in the skin.
Soluble fiber is the best kind for heart health. According to The American Heart Association, adding soluble fiber to your diet can reduce your risk of heart disease and your ‘bad cholesterol’ levels more than a low-fat diet alone.
“Soluble fiber works to lower cholesterol by reducing the amount of it that is absorbed in the intestines, according to the National Institutes of Health.”1
Apples Improve Heart Health
It’s not just apple’s pectin fiber content that improves heart health. Apples are a good source of a plant-based form of cholesterol called Phytosterols (Pss).
The current body of research has consistently proven that eating 2 grams of phytosterols per day can reduce your LDL cholesterol by 8 to 10 percent. And this goal can be reached by consuming more phytosterol-rich foods like apples.
“More than 200 clinical trial reports and several meta-analyses have demonstrated that phytosterols (PSs), natural components of plants, induce clinically relevant reductions in blood low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.”2
Although apples contain only 15 mg of phytosterols per cup (125 grams), chopped, with skin, it’s been proven that eating one or two apples a day can decrease your risk of heart disease.
“The study, which is the latest to polish the apple’s heart-healthy reputation, found that eating apples daily appeared to lower levels of cholesterol and two other markers associated with plaques and inflammation in artery walls.”3
Apples Can Relieve Constipation and Diarrhea
Eating the whole apple can help relieve both constipation and diarrhea, regulating your bowel movements. The pectin in apples adds bulk to the stool. But, if you do not drink enough water, eating apples can make constipation worse. The same is true for all forms of dietary fiber.
Many of apple’s health benefits are due to its pectin content; this is particularly true of its effect on intestinal and bowel health.
Apples Improve the Quality of Intestinal Flora
Apples are a great source of Prebiotics. Prebiotics are a form of fiber that the human body cannot digest, so it is broken down and fermented by colon bacteria for consumption by our probiotics.
50% of apple’s fiber content is pectin and pectin acts as a prebiotic. The pectin increases the production of a short-chain fatty acid, called butyrate, that feeds the probiotics. By feeding our probiotics we increase the amount of good intestinal flora and decrease the number of harmful bacteria. This improves not only intestinal health but immune system functioning.
“A healthy intestinal tract contains both good and bad bacteria, with the optimal situation being where the good bacteria far outnumber the bad. The job of intestinal bacteria is to help us digest food, absorb nutrients and keep viruses and bad bacteria in check.”1
The health benefits of probiotics and high-quality intestinal flora have been studied for decades and the research has shown that our overall health and well-being is greatly affected by our intestinal flora.
“New research suggests that this [prebiotic effect] may be the reason behind some of the protective effects of apples against obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.”4
Apples are Naturally Detoxing
Apples have been used for cleansing the body of toxins since the early twentieth century. Its ability to quickly remove waste from the body is mostly the result of the fruit’s fiber content, both pectin, and cellulose.
“According to the United States Nutrient Data Lab, … [the] soluble fiber, pectin, helps prevent plaque buildup in blood vessels while the insoluble fiber, cellulose, helps the digestive system move waste quickly through the intestinal tract by adding bulk.”5
So, apples cleanse the body of toxins in the same way that psyllium husk and other fiber-based cleansers do. This means that many of the same steps should be taken when using apples for a cleanse:
- do it when you can take two days off and stay home
- reduce meal sizes prior to the cleanse and during
- drink plenty of liquids, especially water
- ease back into a normal diet when the detox ends
Read “How To Cleanse Your System in 2 Days With Apples” to learn more about apple detoxing.
Apples Protect Against Metabolic Syndrome
Because apples are so full of soluble and insoluble fiber eating them regularly can protect you against metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions – such as high blood pressure, excess abdominal fat, and abnormal cholesterol/triglyceride levels – that together increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Fiber reduces levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) also known as “bad cholesterol”. It also helps normalize blood sugar levels and improves weight loss by making you feel fuller and remain sated longer.
How much fiber do you need?
According to the American Heart Association, adults should be getting a minimum of 25 grams of fiber in their diet (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). You may need more fiber but should not consume less.
“Currently, dietary fiber intakes among adults in the United States average about 15 grams a day. That’s about half the recommended amount.”6
Of course, apples should be just one source of fiber in your diet. Nutrition variety is very important to overall good health.
Apples Improve Dental Hygiene
While eating an apple with its skin will not eliminate the need to brush and floss your teeth, it can definitely help improve dental hygiene.
Apples improve gum health. And not just because of their fiber and water content. Apples are also loaded with antioxidants, most notably vitamin C.
Vitamin C is important for gum health, keeping the soft tissue in our mouths firm, which can prevent the teeth from loosening. Also, without vitamin C, our gums would become more susceptible to infections, bleeding, gingivitis, and other forms of gum disease.
“Apples are nature’s toothbrush. Chewing the fibrous texture of the fruit and its skin can stimulate your gums, reduce cavity-causing bacteria and increase saliva flow. Like other crisp, raw vegetables and fruits, apples can also gently remove plaque trapped between teeth.”7
For those with periodontal disease, a vitamin C deficiency increases both bleeding and swelling. A 2003 research study even suggested that vitamin C deficiency could be a cause of periodontal disease.
“Periodontitis is usually a painless, slowly progressing infectious disease in tooth-supporting tissues. Persistent bacterial colonization on the tooth surfaces leads to chronic inflammation in periodontal tissues. Periodontal inflammation results in gingival bleeding, pocket formation, destruction of alveolar bone, and eventually loss of teeth. Severe forms of periodontitis are relatively common, affecting up to 20% of the population worldwide.”8
Also, keep in mind that apples contain potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral that we need for optimal bone density (among other functions), keeping our teeth and the rest of our bones strong and healthy.
Overall, apples have so many health benefits, unless you are allergic to the fruit, apples should be at the top of your grocery list.
If you have any questions, suggestion, or comments about apples or its health benefits, post them below or tweet me on Twitter.
1Joy, Traci. “Apple Pectin Benefits”. Livestrong, n.d. Web. July 2019
2Suhad S. AbuMweis, PhDa, Christopher P.F. Marinangeli, RD, PhDb, Jiri Frohlich, MDc, and Peter J.H. Jones, PhDb. “Implementing Phytosterols Into Medical Practice as a Cholesterol-Lowering Strategy: Overview of Efficacy, Effectiveness, and Safety”. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, October 2014, Volume 30, Issue 10, Pages 1225–1232. Web. July 2019
3Brenda Goodman, MA. “Apples Good for Your Heart: Eating Apples Daily Lowers Cholesterol, Inflammation, Study Finds” WebMD, April 121, 2011. Web. July 2019
4Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD. “10 Impressive Health Benefits of Apples”. Healthline, December 17, 2018. Web. July 2019
5Bragg, Rebecca. “Apple Detox Diet”, Livestrong, n.d. Web. July 2019
6Health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center. “Increasing Fiber Intake”. UCSF Health, n.d. Web. July 2019
7“Apples: Dental Hygiene Facts”. Summit Dental Health, March 15, 2017. Web. July 2019
8Pirkko J. Pussinen, Tiina Laatikainen, Georg Alfthan, et al. “Periodontitis Is Associated with a Low Concentration of Vitamin C in Plasma”. Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology, September 2003. Web. July 2019
Wong, Cathy. “Apple Pectin Uses, Benefits, and Alternatives”. Very Well Health, March 25, 2019. Web. July 2019
Mohla, Devanshi. “6 Power Fruits You Should Include in Your Diet to Detox”. Food.ndtv.com, February 1, 2018. Web. July 2019
Joanne Slavin. “Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits”. Nutrients, April 2013, pg 1417–1435. Web. July 2019
Jennifer Moll, PharmD. “Health Benefits of Phytosterol Supplements: Plant-based compounds may help lower your cholesterol”. Very Well Health, March 6, 2019. Web. July 2019
Noreen Iftikhar, MD “Metabolic Syndrome Diet”. Healthline, April 20, 2018. Web. July 2019
“Metabolic syndrome”. Mayo Clinic, March 14, 2019. Web. July 2019