Weight-busting, cancer-fighting, and possibly the key to treating multiple sclerosis…
The humble apple is finally having its day in the limelight.
A bog-standard feature of most household fruit bowls, the status of a Braeburn or a Granny Smith falls far below the more exotic pineapple or a punnet of handpicked strawberries.
But the latest research will change the way you think about apples forever.
While the saying may be old, scientists are continually discovering new reasons why apples are good for keeping the doctor at bay.
And it’s the peel that is proving to be key in unlocking the power of this everyday fruit.
Like green tea and blueberries, apples are rich in antioxidants (natural plant chemicals). And there are two and a half times as many antioxidants in the skin than the flesh.
So, if you’ve been removing the skin before tucking in, think again.
Power of the peel
Apple skin is packed with a type of antioxidant called polyphenols.
Eating apples as part of a balanced diet helps reduce the risk of various cancers.
Incredibly, laboratory studies have found that apple polyphenols can also directly stop the growth and kill cancer cells.
The peel also contains quercetin, which protects your memory and fights off tissue damage in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Amazingly, studies show that people who eat five apples or more a week have better lung function, thanks to quercetin, too.
Powerful apple polyphenols are proven to help reduce cardiovascular disease and could even help slow down the progression of osteoporosis.
A medium apple with skin contains 4.4g of fibre. This plays a vital role in gut health, as well as managing blood glucose, insulin control and hunger, making you feel fuller for longer.
Ditch the skin and you’re only getting 2.1g of fibre!
Even better, some of the polyphenols packed in the skin reduce fat and carbohydrate absorption, while others actually break down body fat.
Ursolic acid, the chemical that gives apples their waxy sheen, is set to transform the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Currently used to lower cholesterol, the compound could be turned into the first drug to reverse the damage caused by the autoimmune disease.
Existing drugs can only slow down or halt MS in the early stages. But when tested in a US lab, paralysed mice given ursolic acid were able to walk again!
It could be a lifeline for the 130,000 UK sufferers of MS.
Down in one
Mangetout, mangetout. Or in other words, ‘eat all!’
An Austrian study found that the core and stem of an apple contain the highest concentration of the good, gut health-promoting bacteria, known as probiotics.
We each have trillions of good bacteria in our gut. This part of our body, known as the microbiome, can affect everything from our mental health to our immune system.
A single apple contains a staggering 100 million bacterial cells – but if you chuck out the core, you’re only consuming about 10 million of them.
So, enjoy an apple in all it’s glory to give your body a mighty boost.
(Note: some people prefer to remove the seeds because they release small amounts of cyanide when digested, though research suggests they would need to be eaten in huge quantities to pose a danger.)
Put down the peeler!
If you’re ready to take the crunch, here are some of our favourite ways to enjoy an awesome apple. Skin and all.
1) Smother wedges of apples with nut butter (e.g. peanut or almond) or cream cheese and top with dried cranberries, coconut, granola or dark chocolate chips for a sweet treat.
2) Apples make a great savoury snack. Core and slice into rings. Then top with chicken salad or ham and cheddar with Dijon mustard for a healthy alternative to bread.
3) Juice it! Blitz apple with spinach, cucumber, lemon, ginger and ice cubes for a refreshing, naturally sweet detox smoothie.
Now, how’d you like them apples?