Why don’t I peel apples anymore? Crunching on an apple, skin and all, could be the healthiest way to eat this fruit bowl staple. New research has provided further evidence that the peel has powerful health benefits.
Several studies published in the past year have highlighted the wide-ranging health benefits of apple polyphenols – a large group of natural, plant chemicals that are more concentrated in the apple skin. We were just beginning to discover the potential of these powerful plant chemicals.
It’s well -known that apples are full of nutritional goodness. But apple polyphenols are becoming the stand-out compound that holds the key to many of the fruit’s health benefits. The latest science has found apple polyphenols may have a role to play in weight loss and stopping the growth of cancer cells. Emerging research also shows they may even slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Like green tea and blueberries, apples are rich in polyphenols. The polyphenols are found in both the white flesh and the skin of apples. However, there are two and a half times as many antioxidants, including polyphenols, in the apple skin.
So, crunching on a juicy apple, skin and all, could actually be the healthiest way to eat this super fruit.
I recently reviewed the latest health research on apples. Here’s your summary giving us four new reasons to stop peeling and enjoy snacking on an apple, skin and all:
Helps you feel more full
Eating whole apples, as part of a healthy, balanced diet, can help control your appetite and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
A new review has shed further light on how apples help with weight loss. Thirteen studies published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found the high polyphenol levels in apples, especially in the skin, may be directly involved in weight loss and preventing weight gain.
As well as polyphenols, the review showed apple fibre fueled a healthy gut (yay!) microbiota and the low GI of apples helped to manage blood glucose, insulin control and hunger.
Reduce the risk of cancer
Regularly eating apples is associated with a reduced risk of some of the most common cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Building on this, a recent Italian study found apple polyphenols stopped the growth of breast cancer cells in the lab.
The researchers used concentrated extracts from a variety of Italian apples that were particularly high in polyphenols. When applied in the lab to human breast cancer cells, the apple polyphenol extract was highly effective in stopping cell growth and killing cancer cells.
Help your heart
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, it could well be because of its ability to help keep your heart healthy. There’s a heap of research that shows regularly eating apples, as part of a healthy balanced diet, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A Chinese study recently showed both the polyphenols from the peel and flesh helped to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve elasticity of the veins and reduce insulin resistance, when tested on animals. However, the apple peel polyphenols were more effective, and researchers are now attributing many heart health benefits to apple polyphenols.
Healthy skin and bones
In an emerging area of research, apples may have benefits when it comes to managing Osteoarthritis – a condition affecting 1 in 5 Australians.
A recent Japanese study has revealed apple polyphenols – specifically the polyphenol procyanidin – helped to maintain healthy cartilage in joints and slowed the progression of osteoarthritis in lab studies and in animals. The next step is to test this in human trials.
So there you have it. No need to peel apples. Just rinse, crunch and enjoy.
Fun fact – how are apples stored when they are picked?
Most apples are picked at their peak of internal quality and condition. They are then put into large storage rooms the day they are picked. The oxygen level in these rooms is lowered to around 2%, and the temperature is reduced to around 2 degrees Celsius. This environment puts the fruit to sleep (stops the ripening process) until it is time to use. Apples can be stored up to 10 months in this environment (though fresh apple that hasn’t been stored is far better in my view).
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