Apple Health Benefits and Risks You Didn’t Know

Learn the risks and health benefits of apples, and how they can help fend off disease and promote weight loss.

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Health Benefits: Apples fight Alzheimer’s.

Lucas Zarebinski for Reader's Digest

Apples contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cells from degeneration in rats and might do the same in humans. Eat the skin to get maximum disease-fighting compounds.

Health Benefit: Apples prevent colon cancer.

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When the natural fiber in apples ferments in the colon, it produces chemicals that help fight the formation of cancer cells, according to recent research from Germany. Other studies have shown that one type of antioxidant found in apples, called procyanidins, triggered a series of cell signals that resulted in cancer cell death.

Health Benefit: Apples stabilize blood sugar.


Apples are loaded with soluble fiber, which slows the digestion of food and the entry of glucose into the bloodstream. One group of researchers discovered that women who ate at least one apple a day were 28 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who ate none.

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Health Benefit: Apples boost gum health.

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Apples have long been called nature’s toothbrush. Though eating an apple doesn’t actually cleanse the teeth, biting and chewing one stimulates the gums, and the sweetness of the apple prompts an increased flow of saliva, which reduces tooth decay by lowering the level of bacteria in the mouth.

Health Benefit: Apples prevent high blood pressure.

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Adults who eat apples are 37 percent less likely to have hypertension, according to a recent food
database analysis.

Health Benefit: Apples help you lose weight.


Apples are packed with fiber and water, so your stomach will want less food. Plus, studies out of Washington State and Brazil have shown that people who eat at least three apples or pears a day lose weight.

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Health Benefit: Apples fend off heart disease.

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A fresh apple is an ideal snack. Apples are rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that help prevent heart disease—but you must eat the skin.


Health Benefit: Apples fight high cholesterol.


Apples are low in calories and high in the soluble fiber pectin, which helps lower artery-damaging LDL blood cholesterol levels.

Health Risk: Apples contain pesticides.

Lucas Zarebinski for Reader's Digest

Because apples are vulnerable to worms, scale, and other insects, the conventionally grown varieties are usually sprayed with pesticides several times. Always wash fruit carefully before eating, and consider peeling waxed apples—the wax may prevent pesticide residues from being rinsed off.

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Health Risk: Dried apples might bring on allergies.


Sulfur dioxide is often added to dried apples to preserve moistness and color; it can provoke allergic reactions in susceptible people.

Health Risk: Apple cider or juice might cause bacterial infections.


E. coli and cryptosporidium have caused serious illness in people who consumed unpasteurized apple juice or apple cider (most commonly found at roadside stands or country fairs). Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems should take precautions by opting for pasteurized juice or cider. Check the label.

More hidden health benefits in your favorite foods:

Our newly updated resource, Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal, covers 175 foods and the 100 conditions they harm or heal (; available wherever books are sold).

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