Nutrition scientist Dr Joanna McMillan said there are wide-ranging health benefits of natural plant chemical polyphenols – and a large proportion of them are found in apple skins
It turns out those of us who peel our apples before crunching into them are worse off than those who eat them whole.
While they might be easier to eat after being spiralised or stripped of their tough skin, it’s actually not the healthier route.
Nutrition scientist Dr Joanna McMillan said there are wide-ranging health benefits of natural plant chemical polyphenols – and a large proportion of them are found in apple skins.
‘Apples are full of nutritional goodness and apple polyhenols are becoming the stand-out compound that holds the key to many of the fruit’s health benefits,’ she said.
‘The latest science has found apple polyphenols may have a role to play in weight loss and stopping the growth of cancer cells. Emerging research also shows they may even slow the progression of osteoarthritis.’
Polyphenols are also found in green tea and blueberries. While you can get a solid serving of them from the white flesh of apples alone, it’s better overall to eat them from the skin as well.
It turns out those of us who peel our apples before crunching into them are worse off than those who eat them whole
How does Dr McMillan recommend we enjoy an apple?
1. Slice with the skins on and serve with a chunk of cheese – I put this in my kids’ lunch boxes.
2. Slice and smear with nut butter.
3. Blitz in a blender with spinach, cucumber, celery, mint, a slice of lemon (also with peel on) and a handful of ice cubes to make a delicious green smoothie.
‘There are two and a half times as many antioxidants, including polyphenols, in the apple skin,’ she explained.
‘So crunching on a juicy apple, skin and all, could actually be the healthiest way to eat this super fruit.’
And there is more than just one reason to snack on apples, skin and all.
1. The secret to skin-ny
We’ve known for some time that eating whole apples, as part of a healthy, balanced diet, can help make it easier for you lose weight by helping control your appetite and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
A new review has shed further light on how apples help with weight loss.
Published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the review of 13 studies found the high polyphenol levels in apples, especially in the skin, may be directly involved in weight loss and preventing weight gain.
When it comes to keeping the kilos at bay, apple polyphenols play various roles. The researchers found some polyphenols reduced fat and carbohydrate absorption, others helped our bodies breakdown fat to use as fuel, while some fed the gut microbiota helping to create a healthy, balanced and diverse gut.
As well as polyphenols, the review also showed apple fibre fueled a healthy gut micobiota and the low GI of apples helped to manage blood glucose, insulin control and hunger.
2. Anti-cancer ap-peel
Regularly eating apples is associated with a reduced risk of some of the most common cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Building on this, a recent Italian study found apple polyphenols stopped the growth of breast cancer cells in the lab.
‘We can’t yet make the leap to suggest eating apples would have the same effect on the body, but it is exciting research that is beginning to unravel why apples may have an anti-cancer effect,’ Dr McMillan said.
Regularly eating apples is associated with a reduced risk of some of the most common cancers
3. Help your heart peel good
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, it could well be because of its ability to help keep your heart healthy.
There is a significant body of research that shows regularly eating apples can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A Chinese study showed both the polyphenols from the peel and flesh helped to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve elacticity of the veins and reduce insulin resistance, when tested on animals.
4. Skin and bones
In an emerging area of research, we are just discovering apples may be useful in managing osteoarthritis – a condition affecting 1 in 5 Australians.
A recent Japanese study has revealed apple polyphenols – specifically the polyphenol procyanidin – helped to maintain healthy cartilage in joints and slowed the progression of osteoarthritis in lab studies and in animals.
The next step is to test this in human trials.