Apple a Day Benefits Are Actually Pretty Legit


An apple a day keeps the…well, you know how the rest goes. By now, you’ve likely chalked up this ubiquitous saying to nothing more than an old wives’ tale or an excuse from your parents to get you to eat more fruits forever. (In all honesty, same.)

But before you brush off this phrase as nothing more than a myth, health experts say you may want to listen up. In a recent Instagram post by Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist and New York Times bestselling author of The Fiber Fueled Cookbook, the gut health expert gave several reasons why an apple a day can be extremely beneficial for promoting overall well-being.


Experts In This Article

  • Courtney Coe, RDN, registered dietitian at WellTheory
  • Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, registered dietitian and prenatal and postnatal health expert
  • Melanie Murphy Richter, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and neuronutritionist
  • Taylor Grasso, MPPD, RDN, LD, non-diet registered dietitian

To get to the bottom of it we caught up with four (!) registered dietitians who shared their varying opinions on whether or not eating an apple a day will help spare you a visit to the doctor’s office. As it turns out, there’s some very valid (science-backed) evidence to support the statement. But, there’s a caveat: It’s not a cure-all. Ahead we’re delving into the reasons why adding an apple to your daily routine can have its perks, and the ways to reap the most benefits of this tasty fruit.

So, can an apple a day keep the doctor away? 

Let’s delve right into it: Can eating apples regularly spare you a visit to the doc? The verdict from our experts: Kind of.

“Apples are not a cure-all solution; a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are crucial components for maintaining overall health. However, it’s fair to consider apples a beneficial component of a preventive health care regimen,” says Lauren Manaker, RDN, a registered dietitian based in Charleston. “Most Americans aren’t consuming the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables every day, so making a point to include apples in your diet can help meet this goal,” Manaker adds. (According to the American Heart Association, folks should aim to consume at least four to five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.)

Courtney Coe, RDN, a registered dietitian at WellTheory, has a similar point of view. “Apples are an amazing piece to the puzzle when it comes to building a robust, balanced, nutritious diet,” Coe says. “It’s important to include protein, anti-inflammatory fats, complex carbs, fruits, and veggies into your diet daily as the nutrient profiles for each food group are different, and work best together.” Translation: Apples are great, but alone they simply won’t cut it. “Eating an apple a day won’t hurt you, but without a nutritious diet, it may not be doing as much good as one would think,” Coe says.

Melanie Murphy Richter, RD, a registered dietitian and neuronutritionist, says the better question is: What are you eating most often? “If you are eating a highly-processed foods diet or regularly consuming cookies and chips most days of the week, you may not be keeping the doctor away, even if you throw an apple in every once in a while,” Richter says. It’s all about moderation, folks. “If you are conscious about choosing whole, nutrient-dense foods most of the time, and regularly choosing apples in lieu of a less nutritious snack, you will absolutely be contributing to a healthier diet, a healthier body, and probably fewer doctor’s visits overall,” she says.

4 science-backed health benefits of eating apples

1. They’re loaded with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals

One thing all the dietitians we spoke with can agree on is that the humble apple boasts an impressive list of immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. “An apple’s nutritional profile includes vitamin C, vitamin A, and various B vitamins that contribute to a robust immune system,” Manaker says.

2. They’re packed with boatloads of antioxidants

Perhaps one of the most impressive benefits of apples is their ability to help keep inflammation at bay. “They contain antioxidants—such as flavonoids and polyphenols—which help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body,” Coe says. And please, leave the peel on! “The most important part of the apple-eating paradigm is making sure you eat the skin,” says Richter. “The cancer-fighting, oxidative protective antioxidants that apples provide are mostly found in their skins.”

3. They’re loaded with tons of gut-healthy nutrients

According to Dr. Bulsiewicz’s post, one medium-sized apple contains nearly 4.4 grams of gut-healthy fiber. But that’s not all when it comes to the digestion benefits of apples, the gastroenterologist hones in on the importance of the phytochemicals—plant compounds with potential anti-cancer properties—found in apples. “Apples contain so many phytochemicals; it’s INSANE! I can name almost a dozen off the top of my head, including gallic acid, catechin, and quercetin-3-glucoside. [And] for all the quercetin-3-glucoside fans out there, yes, you’ll find it in your apple,” Dr. Bulsiewicz wrote.

Not convinced yet? Dr. Bulsiewicz also highlights that apples are a great source of probiotics that help support a healthy and robust microbiome and that “a single apple may contain up to 100 million bacteria.” (In the context of gut health, that’s a very good thing.) In fact, he even recommends choosing food-based sources over probiotic capsules to get the most gut health benefits from the living microorganisms in probiotics.

4. They’re beneficial for heart health

Another reason to love apples? They’re great for your cardiovascular health too. “Regular consumption of these crunchy fruits can contribute to heart health, thanks to their high fiber content which helps in regulating blood cholesterol levels,” Manaker says. “Plus, the soluble fiber found in apples has also been linked to lower blood pressure and improved lipid levels.”

What’s the best type of apple for overall well-being?

It’s important to note that not all apple products are created equal. You won’t reap the same benefits of eating an apple as you would by consuming only its juice or eating applesauce, for example. “Eating a whole apple includes dietary fiber, particularly in the skin, which is beneficial for digestive health and helps regulate blood sugar levels,” Manaker says. “On the other hand, applesauce can still offer some of the same vitamins and minerals, although fiber content may be reduced if the skin is removed during processing,” she says.

Richter also points out that the way in which applesauce is made can also diminish its nutritional value. “The health benefits decrease the more processed or liquid the apple becomes. Applesauce can provide some of the fiber and nutrients of an apple, but they often aren’t boiled or mashed with their skins. So already, apple sauce is going to have less antioxidant profile than a whole apple,” she says.

According to Richter, you may also want to stay away from apple juice in large quantities. “It has removed most of the fiber [and] all of the antioxidants but left only is fructose sugar,” she says. “Drinking apple juice can give you almost as much sugar as a soda.”

Looking for a delicious, dietitian-approved apple snack? Registered dietitian Taylor Grasso, RD, recommends building “power-packed” snacks that combines carbohydrates like apples (the brain and body’s main source of energy) with protein, fiber, and/or fat to support more stable blood sugar balance, energy levels, and satisfaction. Her go-to: an apple paired with Catalina Crunch snack mix (plus an optional dollop of peanut butter or Greek yogurt for added protein). “This combination adds in healthy fats and fiber with the snack mix, plus a nice mix of salty and sweet,” Grasso says.

How many apples should you consume daily to reap the most benefits? 

According to Coe, this can vary depending on several factors, such as your age, activity level, and personal taste preferences. But as a rule of thumb, the dietitian recommends that folks consume at least two to three servings of fruit per day (and the more variety you can get, the better to help maximize nutrient intake as best as possible).

Tasty apple crisp coming right up:





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