How many calories are in an apple? Health benefits and recipes

According to data from the American Apple Association, there will be more than 10.7 billion pounds of apples produced in the United States during the 2022-2023 growing season. With fall just around the corner, it’s time to start picking! Whether you get your apples from the farm, farmer’s market, or supermarket, this crunchy, portable fruit is worth adding to your basket. Not only are apples packed with nutrition, but they also make a healthy stand-alone snack or a versatile ingredient for salads, main courses and desserts.

Here are some of the best reasons to add plenty of apples to your grocery list and tasty ways to eat “an apple a day.”

Apple Nutritional Facts

A medium apple has:

  • 95 calories
  • 0.5 grams of protein
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 25 grams of carbohydrates
  • 4 grams of fiber (16% of the daily value (DV))
  • 8 milligrams of vitamin C (11% DV)

Most of the beneficial compounds in apples come from polyphenols (plant compounds), which are not actually listed on the nutrition facts label.

The health benefits of apples

The old adage that an apple a day is the antidote to basically everything can have some validity. Research on apples points to their benefits for heart health, diabetes, cancer, gut health, weight loss, and inflammation. “Apples are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C and low in calories,” said Sarah Schlichter, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Bucket List Tummy.

A recent meta-analysis described apples as having “medicinal value,” citing research showing the protective properties of eating apples for several chronic diseases. In fact, a meta-analysis of over forty studies found that eating apples was associated with a reduced risk of cancer. The authors hypothesize that the polyphenols in apples act as antioxidants, which can inhibit tumor multiplication and growth.

Some of the most impressive research surrounding apples is about their heart health benefits. A recent randomized controlled trial in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed the effects of eating an apple a day on inflammatory biomarkers associated with cardiovascular disease in an obese population. Researchers found that just one apple a day for six weeks can reduce obesity-related inflammation typically associated with cardiovascular disease, even without weight loss.

Also, a second randomized controlled trial in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two apples a day for eight weeks lowered blood cholesterol in adults with high cholesterol. Again, the researchers attribute these results to the fruit’s polyphenols.

Another point for the polyphenols column is their role in gut health. Research on the polyphenols in apples suggests they may play a positive role in gut microbial activity, but more research is needed.

Beyond polyphenols, Schlichter said the fiber in apples contributes to your health. “Eating enough fiber can be great for balancing blood sugar levels, managing satiety and helping digestion,” she said. Data from a research review in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that eating apples is also associated with weight loss.

Are there any downsides to eating apples?

Apples contain natural sugars, mainly fructose, sucrose and glucose. A medium apple has 6 grams of fructose, 2 grams of sucrose and 2 grams of glucose. “Many people may not know that the fructose in apples can cause problems for those with fructose intolerance,” Schlichter said. “Because apples contain (carbohydrates called) FODMAPS, which are fermentable fibers that cause digestive problems, some people may experience gas or abdominal pain after eating apples,” she adds.

However, these digestive problems are not the case for everyone, so many people are perfectly incorporating apples into their diet.

Fun facts about apples

Beyond their impressive nutrient profile, here are some other fun reasons to eat apples.

There are more than 7,500 varieties cultivated worldwide

While you can stick with gala or honeycrisp, “there are 7,500 varieties of apples grown worldwide and it’s the second most consumed fruit after bananas,” according to Schlichter. About 2,500 varieties are grown in the United States alone.

Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, McIntosh and Pink Lady are some of the most common varieties in the US. Some are more crunchy and sweet, like the Honeycrisp and Gala, while others are more tart, like the Granny Smith.

The fiber is in the skin

Science suggests that the beneficial antioxidant properties of apples come from the skin.

There’s a reason an apple’s skin is a bit tough: it houses most of the fruit’s fiber. A medium apple with skin has 4 grams of fiber, but remove that skin and cut the fiber in half to just 2 grams. Science also suggests that the beneficial antioxidant properties of apples come from the skin. In other words, it’s best to snack on whole apples. Leave the skin on, unless you really need to remove it for a recipe like apple pie.

Apples contain pectin, a plant-based alternative to gelatin

The soluble fiber in apples is called pectin. This type of fiber is a starch found in the cell walls of certain fruits and vegetables. After being extracted from the plant, it is sold in liquid or powder form.

Pectin is used as a natural thickener for jellies or jams, especially with fruits that are not rich in pectin, such as berries. Since pectin comes from plants, it is a vegan alternative to gelatin.

Healthy apple recipes and snack ideas

Apples are incredibly versatile and can fit perfectly into any meal of the day. There are really two ways to go with apple dishes, either sweet or savory. Both are equally delicious. Here are some simple ways to use apples in different ways.

To have breakfast: “I love tossing diced apples into baked oats, overnight oats or yogurt parfaits,” Schlichter said.

Snacks: “When we enjoy with my kids, we’ll often make ‘apple nachos’ and cut the apples into a flat ‘chip’ shape, then toss it with Greek yogurt, peanut butter, sprinkles and chia seeds,” she says. said Schlichter.

Garnishes: The sweetness and crunch of apples make them the perfect ingredient for a simple salad or a complement to a leafy fall salad.

Principals: Apples go well with savory dishes, such as herbed pork tenderloin or salmon tacos.

Desserts: You can’t go wrong with a decadent apple crisp, apple pie, or apple pie elevated with caramel sauce.

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