Apples have a number of health benefits across the board.
- Apples are rich in fibre. According to the World Health Organisation, high levels of dietary fibre can help prevent weight gain. Enough fibre each day is essential for good digestive health.
- Apples have a low glycaemic index (GI), meaning they provide slow-burn energy that keeps you going for longer.
- Apples contain a number of vitamins and minerals for a healthy human diet, such as Vitamin C for healthy skin and a strong immune system, potassium which helps control blood pressure, and flavonoids (antioxidants) that lower incidences of diseases like asthma, lung cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Sugar in Apples
Sugar molecules in food are classified as monosaccharides (single sugar molecules such as glucose and fructose) and disaccharides (more complex structures such as sucrose and lactose). Fruit contains natural sugars, which are a mix of sucrose, fructose, and glucose.
Free sugars include these same sugars (fructose, glucose, sucrose), but in this case they have been removed from their naturally occurring source (rather than being eaten as natural parts of fruits, dairy products, and some vegetables and grains).
Health risks from sugars such as tooth decay and unhealthy weight gain are related to consuming too many free sugars in the diet, not from eating sugars that are naturally present in fruits or milk.
Foods that are sources of free sugars, such as juices, soft drinks, biscuits, and lollies, are often high in calories and have little other nutritional value. Fruit would have to be consumed in excessive amounts to have any chance of the natural sugars to become harmful in the same way as processed foods with free sugars.
Research carried out by the University of Western Australia (UWA) shows that consumption of high-flavonoid apples improves several measures of cardiovascular health and can be linked to lower incidence of diseases like asthma, lung cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Flavonoids (a.k.a. antioxidants) are the largest group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables, with more than 6,000 types. One of the best-known types of flavonoid is quercetin, which is the primary flavonoid present in apples.
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to Vitamin C and Potassium, apples also contain calcium for healthy bones and teeth, iron to help transport oxygen in the body, and zinc for the immune system. They contain B group vitamins, which are vital for the release of energy from food. Apples don’t contain any cholesterol or sodium (salt) and contain very little fat.
Carbohydrate foods with a low GI (glycaemic index) release sugar into the bloodstream gradually to provide longer lasting energy. Because apples have a low GI of 38, they provide a sustained source of energy for the body.