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Healthy Living » Health Benefits

Crispy. Tasty. Handy… Healthy

Everyone knows Michigan Apples taste great, but they also keep you healthy and strong. Loaded with powerful flavonoids and antioxidants, they're perfect for every diet and every part of your body.

Michigan Apples:

Reduce risk of heart disease and stroke

Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol and rich in fruits that contain fiber, particularly soluble fiber, may lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Development of heart disease depends on many factors. Apples are a naturally fat-free, saturated fat-free, and cholesterol-free food, and are an excellent source of fiber – both soluble (including pectin) and insoluble types.

What’s the apple link to cardiovascular – that is, heart and blood vessel – health? Fiber lowers cholesterol levels in the blood, so the "bad" LDL cholesterol doesn’t get a chance to clog arteries where it might cause a heart attack or stroke. In 2000, a first-of-its-kind human study at University of California-Davis found that eating two apples a day may reduce damage caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol, the kind that sticks to arteries.

Reduce cancer risk

Diets low in total fat and rich in fiber-containing fruits and other plant foods may reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Development of cancer depends on many factors. Apples are an excellent source of fiber, and are naturally fat-free.

How might apples protect against cancer? Experts believe that "phytochemicals" (aka "plant chemicals" or "plant nutrients") in many fruits, including apples, may fight cancer. For example, preliminary Mayo Clinic research indicates that the apple antioxidant quercetin may slow or prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells. Because this research examined only isolated cells in a laboratory setting, further study in humans is needed.

Reduce high blood pressure risk

Diets low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a disease associated with many factors. Development of hypertension or high blood pressure depends on many factors. Apples are a naturally sodium-free food.

The reputable Mayo Clinic calls high blood pressure – aka hypertension – the silent killer because it stealthily attacks vital organs, including the heart. Preventing hypertension to begin with, or controlling it as much as possible, is vital to your better health. So here’s one more reason to enjoy apples daily as part of a low-fat, low-sodium diet.

Maintain regularity 

Continuity counts! Eating high-fiber apples regularly can help keep you regular. Apples’ soluble fiber absorbs water to soften stools, while their insoluble fiber provides bulk to ease elimination. And eating apples tickles your taste buds a lot more than a fiber pill.

Aid weight loss

Eat more, and weigh less! It’s true – eating more high-fiber foods like apples may help you to a healthy weight. A 2003 Brazilian study reports that women who ate apples as part of a calorie-reduced diet program lost more weight than those dieters who didn’t eat apples. It might be that apples’ fiber fills you up faster, so you eat less and feel fuller for longer. And soluble fiber slows the body’s release of glucose, preventing sudden drops in blood sugar that trigger hunger and can set off food cravings. All that, and a tennis ball-sized apple contains only about 80 calories – what a diet bargain!

Key part of a healthy diet

Whether you’re on a low-fat diet, a carb-controlled diet or you think diet is a four-letter word, fiber-filled- apples fit on every plate. With so many varieties to choose from, there’s a flavor for everyone. The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults consume two and a half to more than six cups of fruits and vegetables a day for better health, depending on calorie needs. Get on your way to your goal deliciously with apples!

Brighten smile

Smile when you say "apples"! Crunchy, juicy apples act like nature’s toothbrush, keeping teeth healthy and scrubbing away stains over time. Their rough, fibrous texture and natural tannins, chased with a rinse of water, make them ideal for cleaning and brightening teeth.

Maintain energy

Apples are a smart choice for anyone who wants to maintain blood sugar levels that are already within normal limits. High-fiber foods like apples act like an energy time-release machine. While refined sugars get released into our bodies immediately, soluble fiber such as in apples acts like a glucose net – causing apples’ natural sugars to be released more slowly and evenly, preventing sudden peaks or valleys in blood sugar. (Individuals with diabetes should consult their health professionals for specific guidance.)

Food for thought

Apples may provide food for thought – literally. There is growing evidence that antioxidants, such as those found in apples, may protect brain cells. Oxidative damage to brain cells may reduce brain function over time, and increase the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases. Preliminary laboratory and animal research at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Cornell University suggests apple nutrients protect brain cells from oxidative damage, and promote memory and learning. Please note, researchers have not studied this in humans.

Breathe easier

Want to breathe easier? Then consider eating more apples. Although long-term research is needed, several preliminary studies suggest apples may provide a range of health benefits, including improved lung function and protecting lung health. One case-control human study from Hawaii comparing lung cancer patients to healthy persons linked apple consumption to reduced lung cancer risk, but further human study is warranted.

Please contact your health care provider should you have any questions or concerns about your diet and health. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

1 Source: As per the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report, available at http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/report/: As reviewed by Fernandez (2001), a large number of relatively small-scale clinical intervention trials have shown that viscous fiber can lower serum cholesterol. It is generally accepted that a decrease in serum cholesterol is protective against coronary heart disease (CHD – see Part D, Section 4, for further information). Notably, in the studies in the Types and Sources of Dietary Fiber Summary Tables, Appendix G-3, total dietary fiber from foods was shown to be protective against CHD, not just those fibers that lower cholesterol. Other possible mechanisms for the protective effect of high-fiber diets include the resulting delayed absorption of macronutrients; a decrease in serum triglyceride levels; and a lowering of blood pressure.

2 Source: Journal of Medicinal Food, 2000, vol. 3: pg. 159-165. This paper is not currently available online.

3 Source: As per the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report, available online at http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/report/: The World Health Organization International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) has estimated that low fruit and vegetable intake contributes to 5-12 percent of all cancers and up to 20-30 percent of upper gastrointestinal cancers that may otherwise be preventable. Therefore, the consumption of fruits and vegetables can confer protection against cancer. The phytochemical components in fruits and vegetables possess anticarcinogenic properties that influence DNA damage and repair, thus reducing mutations. These phytochemicals include antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin C, flavonoids, isothiocyanates, and organosulfides, as well as minerals and other bioactive compounds (Liu et al., 2003b).]

4 Source: Carcinogenesis, 2001, 22: 409-414.

5 Source: M.C. de Oliveira et al,Nutrition (Elsevier), 2003, vol. 19, no. 3: pg 253-256.

7 Sources:
* From Alzheimers Association, http://www.alz.org/brainhealth/overview.asp and http://www.alz.org/adopt_a_brain_healthy_diet.asp; e.g., "Eat less fat and more antioxidant-rich foods."
* According to USDA research, apples are a leading fruit source of antioxidants, and the antioxidants in apples are particularly potent. Source: Journal of Agric Food Chem, 2004; vol. 52 no 12; pp. 4026-4037.
* From National Institute of Aging, http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/ADPrevented/chap03.htm.htm: "… Damage from these free radicals can build up in nerve cells and result in a loss of cell function, which can contribute to AD. Some population and laboratory studies suggest that antioxidants from dietary supplements or food may provide some protection against oxidative damage, but other studies show no effect. Clinical trials may provide some answers."
8 Source: Journal on Nutrition Health and Aging, 2004, vol. 8: pg 92-97; and Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2004; vol. 52, no. 25, pg 7514 –7517.

9 Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2000, vol. 92: pg 154-160.