The saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, nutritionists say, is not far from the truth, as apples have enormous health benefits and more importantly, when consumed on a daily basis, help keep many diseases at bay.
To stay healthy and free from certain conditions, health experts advise people to consume apples often.
Joseph Uwiragiye, head of nutrition Department at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), says the health benefits of consuming apples include a boost in one’s immune system.
He says this is so because of the presence of Vitamin C that reduces cholesterol and helps reduce risk of tooth decay by killing off bacteria.
“You don’t need to eat too much to be full; instead, eats apples because they contain fibre that will keep you feeling fuller quickly and longer,” Uwiragiye says.
He says that this is so because it takes our bodies longer to digest complex fibre, like that found in apples, than simpler ingredients like refined grains or sugars.
Additionally, he says, consuming apples has also been linked to a lower risk of obesity, and that this is because it boots calorie burn and increases muscles and brown fat (this is a special type of body fat that is activated) when one is cold.
The brown fat produces heat to help maintain the body temperature in cold conditions, Uwiragiye says.
Patricia Uwera, a Kigali-based nutritionist, says consuming apples boosts better functioning of the lungs.
She says this is so because of the presence an antioxidant known as quercetin found in the skin of apples. She adds that this component is also found in onions and tomatoes.
On the other hand, she says apples are also linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, due to antioxidants and anthocyanins which are responsible for purple, blue and red colour in some fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to heart disease, she says consuming apples can keep the conditions away.
Uwera says this is because they contain soluble fibre, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels in the body. Also, she notes that they contain polyphenols, which have antioxidant effects.
“One of these polyphenols is the flavonoids epicatechin that help lower the blood pressure. It can as well help prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing bad LDL oxidation and also acting as antioxidants,” she says.
Uwiragiye says that some studies have indicated that consuming white fleshed fruit and vegetables, including apples, are linked to reduced risk of stroke, therefore, helpful when it comes to keeping the condition at bay.
Apart from that, because of the presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in apples, he says it helps promote bone density and strength.
“The compounds help promote bone health, and most importantly, consuming the fruit on a daily basis helps preserve bone mass as one ages,” he says.
Uwiragiye says that eating apples helps promote good gut bacteria, due to pectin (a type of fibre that acts as prebiotic) in apples; this means that it feeds the good bacteria in the gut.
He explains that the small intestines doesn’t absorb fibre during digestion; instead; it goes to the colon, where it can promote the growth of good bacteria.
“Because of the lifestyles many people are exposed to, it has become common for them to acquire different diseases, especially non-communicable diseases, and among them, different types of cancers,” he says.
Due to this, Uwiragiye points out that opting for fruits such as apples may help one stay away from such diseases.
He says that this is so because apples have several naturally occurring compounds that may help fight cancer. They are linked to a lower risk of cancer and death from cancer as well.
For asthma, Uwera says apples contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help regulate immune responses and protect against the condition.