A new CSIRO summary of research1 has revealed even more health benefits to crunching on an apple a day.
The summary highlights a growing body of scientific evidence that shows regularly eating apples can help keep your heart healthy, control appetite, and assist with weight loss.
Emerging research also links eating apples with healthier gut bacteria.
Leading health and lifestyle expert Dr Joanna McMillan said we were still discovering just how important a daily apple could be to our overall health.
“We know crunching on an apple makes us feel great. What we are now learning is how the compounds in apples, especially polyphenols and apple fibre actually help our bodies,” says Dr McMillan.
“This new evidence makes it even more important to eat the whole apple, skin and all, to ensure you’re getting all the goodness, because a lot of the antioxidants, fibre and polyphenols are found close to or in the skin.”
The CSIRO summary, commissioned by Horticulture Innovation Australia, involved reviewing the abstracts of 122 studies on apples and their health benefits that were published in scientific journals between 2010 and 2016.
Based on the CSIRO summary of research, here are Dr Joanna McMillan’s five top reasons to get your crunch on and eat an apple a day:
1. Apple Eaters Weigh Less
Eating whole apples can help control your appetite and assist with weight loss, by helping you feel fuller for longer1.
Studies have shown that both adults and children who eat apples regularly are more likely to have a lower BMI1 Initially researchers believed it was the low energy density of apples that helped manage weight. More recent animal research suggests the dietary fibre (pectin) and polyphenols in apples may also play a role in appetite and weight control1
2. Good For Gut Health
Emerging research shows eating apples is associated with healthier gut bacteria1.
It is believed eating apples results in positive changes to gut bacteria (or microbiota1). While the exact health effects of this are not yet known, the gut microbiome (the genes of the microbiota) are now understood to play an important role in maintaining good health and preventing disease1.
3. Put The Crunch On Cancer
Regularly eating apples is associated with a reduced risk of some of the most common forms of cancer1.
This has been shown for breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma1.
4. Keep Your Ticker Healthy
There is a strengthening body of scientific evidence that a regular apple habit is good for your heart1.
Apples and their nutritional components help lower total and LDL cholesterol1. While observational studies link eating more apples with a reduced risk of stroke, hypertension and a range of heart disease risk factors1.
Emerging research from the University of Western Australia also suggests that eating apples may improve blood pressure and elasticity of blood vessels1.
5. Ideal Snack For Kids
Apples are a great morning snack for kids and perfect for recess1. Research shows apples are more effective than a glass of (semi-skimmed) milk at reducing morning munchies1. Kids who regularly eat apples are more likely to have a lower BMI, better overall nutrition, a better diet and be at lower risk of obesity1.
The Australian apples season is now in full swing. Here are some handy apple tips for selecting, storing and enjoying your apples.
- Select apples that are firm and without bruises and blemishes.
- Store your apples in the fridge when you get home; they’ll stay fresher and keep their crunch for longer.
- Enjoy the whole apple – skin and all – to get all the nutritional benefits. A lot of the antioxidants and other good stuff is in the skin.
The wax on apples is safe to eat so it’s best to enjoy them skin and all, because there are lots of valuable nutrients in the skin.
You can wash the wax off apples by very gently rubbing them under lukewarm water or simply buy unwaxed apples. This is now even easier with both major retailers, Woolworths and Coles, selling apples with no added wax.
As a bit of background, apples naturally develop a coat of wax when they are growing to provide protection and retain moisture. Once picked, the apples are cleaned to remove dirt and leaf litter, but this can remove the natural coat of wax as well. Often, a small amount of food-grade wax is applied to the apple to replace the naturally-occurring wax. This helps keep apples shiny and maintain the crunch. The food grade wax is also used in many other foods including chocolate, confectionery and on other fruits.
When it comes to pesticides, our growers use as little as possible.
Australia is a world leader in natural pest control methods and this has seen a significant reduction in the use of pesticides. The fact is our growers don't want to use pesticides - they are expensive, they take time and there are much better ways of dealing with pests.
About the Expert
Horticulture Innovation Australia is a not- for-profit, industry-owned organisation that delivers more than $100 million in research, development and marketing activities on behalf of growers each year.
1. James-Martin G, Williams G, Stonehouse W. Translating the scientific evidence for apples and pears into health messages. Report for HIA. November 2016. http://aussieapples.com.au/media/documents/why-are-apples-healthy/The_Apple_Report_2016.pdf