Cheap and readily available in the UK, apples come in an array of colours depending on the variety (of which there are around 2,000) from pale yellows and greens through to deep reds. Their taste and texture vary too, from juicy to firm and sweet to tangy. Due to the large variety of apples available, you can buy British apples pretty much all year round, but traditionally apples are in season in the UK from September to February.
Apples are extremely rich in antioxidants that help to protect our cells from free radical damage caused by factors such as pollution, cigarette smoke, UV rays and even inflammation within the body, often as a result of a poor diet or some medications.
Apples also contain dietary fibre needed to support a healthy digestive system, as well as vitamins A and C that support the immune system, vitamin K needed for blood clotting, biotin (vitamin B7) that helps to break down fat, and iodine which is involved in healthy thyroid function.
You may be familiar with the old proverb, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, but is there really a link between eating apples and general good health?
Apples contains pectin, a natural fibre found in most plants and some recent research by the European Journal of Nutrition found that eating pectin-rich whole apples had a cholesterol-lowering effect in healthy volunteers, compared to apple juice which did not. A study by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also showed how consuming around 75g of dried apple (approximately two apples) helped to reduce cholesterol in postmenopausal women.
Apples are low on the glycaemic index thanks to their fibre content. This, together with their high flavonoid content, may help to improve insulin sensitivity, which is important both for weight management and preventing diabetes.
Animal studies have shown that pectin extracted from apples may help to regulate the gut microbiome (gut bacteria), which in turn may help to prevent obesity and other inflammatory disorders. However, more research is required before the same claim can be demonstrated in human populations.