The Antioxidants Found in Apples May Lower Your Risk of Diabetes. Several studies have found that eating apples is linked to a lower risk of diabetes. One study found that women who ate an apple per day had a 28% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than women who didn’t eat any apples.
Do Apples Affect Diabetes and Blood Sugar Levels?
Apples are delicious, nutritious, and convenient to eat.
Studies have shown that they have several health benefits.
Yet apples also contain carbs, which impact blood sugar levels.
However, the carbs found in apples affect your body differently than the sugars found in junk foods.
This article explains how apples affect blood sugar levels and how to incorporate them into your diet if you have diabetes.
Apples are one of the most popular fruits in the world.
They’re also highly nutritious. In fact, apples are high in vitamin C, fiber, and several antioxidants.
One medium apple contains 95 calories, 25 grams of carbs, and 14% of the daily value for vitamin C.
Interestingly, a large part of an apple’s nutrients is found in its colorful skin.
Furthermore, apples contain large amounts of water and fiber, which make them surprisingly filling. You’re likely to be satisfied after eating just one.
10 Impressive Health Benefits of Apples
Apples are one of the most popular fruits — and for good reason.
They’re an exceptionally healthy fruit with many research-backed benefits.
Here are 10 impressive health benefits of apples.
A medium apple — with a diameter of about 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) — equals 1.5 cups of fruit. Two cups of fruit daily are recommended on a 2,000-calorie diet.
One medium apple — 6.4 ounces or 182 grams — offers the following nutrients.
- Calories: 95
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Vitamin C: 14% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Potassium: 6% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 5% of the RDI
What’s more, the same serving provides 2–4% of the RDI for manganese, copper, and vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and B6.
Apples are also a rich source of polyphenols. While nutrition labels don’t list these plant compounds, they’re likely responsible for many of the health benefits.
To get the most out of apples, leave the skin on — it contains half of the fiber and many of the polyphenols.
SUMMARYApples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C. They also contain polyphenols, which may have numerous health benefits.
Apples are high in fiber and water — two qualities that make them filling.
In one study, people who ate apple slices before a meal felt fuller than those who consumed applesauce, apple juice, or no apple products.
In the same study, those who started their meal with apple slices also ate an average of 200 fewer calories than those who didn’t.
In another 10-week study in 50 overweight women, participants who ate apples lost an average of 2 pounds (1 kg) and ate fewer calories overall, compared to those who ate oat cookies with a similar calorie and fiber content.
Researchers think that apples are more filling because they’re less energy-dense, yet still deliver fiber and volume.
Furthermore, some natural compounds in them may promote weight loss.
A study in obese mice found that those given a supplement of ground apples and apple juice concentrate lost more weight and had lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol than the control group.
Apples have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
One reason may be that apples contain soluble fiber — the kind that can help lower your blood cholesterol levels.
They also contain polyphenols, which have antioxidant effects. Many of these are concentrated in the peel.
One of these polyphenols is the flavonoid epicatechin, which may lower blood pressure.
An analysis of studies found that high intakes of flavonoids were linked to a 20% lower risk of stroke.
Flavonoids can help prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing “bad” LDL oxidation, and acting as antioxidants.
Another study comparing the effects of eating an apple a day to taking statins — a class of drugs known to lower cholesterol — concluded that apples would be almost as effective at reducing death from heart disease as the drugs.
However, since this was not a controlled trial, findings must be taken with a grain of salt.
Another study linked consuming white-fleshed fruits and vegetables, such as apples and pears, to a reduced risk of stroke. For every 25 grams — about 1/5 cup of apple slices — consumed, the risk of stroke decreased by 9%.
SUMMARYApples promote heart health in several ways. They’re high in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. They also have polyphenols, which are linked to lower blood pressure and stroke risk.
Several studies have linked eating apples to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes..
In one large study, eating an apple a day was linked to a 28% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to not eating any apples. Even eating just a few apples per week had a similarly protective effect.
It’s possible that the polyphenols in apples help prevent tissue damage to beta cells in your pancreas. Beta cells produce insulin in your body and are often damaged in people with type 2 diabetes.
SUMMARYEating apples is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This is possibly due to their polyphenol antioxidant content.
Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic. This means it feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
Your small intestine doesn’t absorb fiber during digestion. Instead, it goes to your colon, where it can promote the growth of good bacteria. It also turns into other helpful compounds that circulate back through your body.
New research suggests that this may be the reason behind some of the protective effects of apples against obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
SUMMARYThe type of fiber in apples feeds good bacteria and may be the reason they protect against obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Test-tube studies have shown a link between plant compounds in apples and a lower risk of cancer.
Additionally, one study in women reported that eating apples were linked to lower rates of death from cancer.
Scientists believe that their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may be responsible for their potential cancer-preventive effects.
SUMMARYApples have several naturally occurring compounds that may help fight cancer. Observational studies have linked them to a lower risk of cancer and death from cancer.
Antioxidant-rich apples may help protect your lungs from oxidative damage.
A large study in more than 68,000 women found that those who ate the most apples had the lowest risk of asthma. Eating about 15% of a large apple per day was linked to a 10% lower risk of this condition.
Apple skin contains the flavonoid quercetin, which can help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. These are two ways in which it may affect asthma and allergic reactions.
SUMMARYApples contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help regulate immune responses and protect against asthma.
Eating fruit is linked to higher bone density, which is a marker of bone health.
Researchers believe that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in fruit may help promote bone density and strength.
Some studies show that apples, specifically, may positively affect bone health.
In one study, women ate a meal that either included fresh apples, peeled apples, applesauce, or no apple products. Those who ate apples lost less calcium from their bodies than the control group.
SUMMARYThe antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in apples may promote bone health. What’s more, eating fruit may help preserve bone mass as you age.
The class of painkillers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can injure the lining of your stomach.
A study in test tubes and rats found that freeze-dried apple extract helped protect stomach cells from injury due to NSAIDs.
Two plant compounds in apples — chlorogenic acid and catechin — are thought to be particularly helpful.
However, research in humans is needed to confirm these results.
Apples contain compounds that may help protect your stomach lining from injury due to NSAID painkillers.
Most research focuses on apple peel and flesh.
However, apple juice may have benefits for age-related mental decline.
In animal studies, juice concentrate reduced harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) in brain tissue and minimized mental decline.
Apple juice may help preserve acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that can decline with age. Low levels of acetylcholine are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Similarly, researchers, who fed elderly rats whole apples found that a marker of the rats’ memory was restored to the level of younger rats.
That said, whole apples contain the same compounds as apple juice — and it is always a healthier choice to eat your fruit whole.
According to animal studies, apple juice may help prevent the decline of neurotransmitters that are involved in memory.
Apples are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. They also help you feel full without consuming a lot of calories.
If you have diabetes, keeping tabs on your carbohydrate intake is important.
That’s because of the three macronutrients — carbs, fat, and protein — carbs affect your blood sugar levels the most.
That being said, not all carbs are created equal. A medium apple contains 25 grams of carbs, but 4.4 of those are fiber.
Fiber slows down the digestion and absorption of carbs, causing them to not spike your blood sugar levels nearly as quickly. Studies show that fiber is protective against type 2 diabetes and that many types of fiber can improve blood sugar control.
Apples contain carbs, which can raise blood sugar levels. However, the fiber in apples helps stabilize blood sugar levels, in addition to providing other health benefits.
Apples do contain sugar, but much of the sugar found in apples is fructose.
When fructose is consumed in whole fruit, it has very little effect on blood sugar levels.
Also, the fiber in apples slows down the digestion and absorption of sugar. This means sugar enters the bloodstream slowly and doesn’t rapidly raise blood sugar levels.
Moreover, polyphenols, which are plant compounds found in apples, also slow down the digestion of carbs and lower blood sugar levels.
The glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) are useful tools to measure how much food affects blood sugar levels.
Apples score relatively low on both the GI and GL scales, meaning that they cause a minimal rise in blood sugar levels.
One study of 12 obese women found that blood sugar levels were over 50% lower after consuming a meal with a low GL, compared to a meal with a high GL.
Apples have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels and are unlikely to cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, even in diabetics.
There are two types of diabetes — type 1 and type 2.
If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the hormone that transports sugar from your blood to your cells.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body produces insulin but your cells are resistant to it. This is called insulin resistance.
Eating apples on a regular basis might reduce insulin resistance, which should lead to lower blood sugar levels.
This is because the polyphenols in apples, which are found primarily in apple skin, stimulate your pancreas to release insulin and help your cells take in sugar.
Apples contain plant compounds that may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance.
Several studies have found that eating apples is linked to a lower risk of diabetes.
One study found that women who ate an apple per day had a 28% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than women who didn’t eat any apples.
There are multiple reasons apples might help prevent diabetes, but the antioxidants found in apples likely play a significant role.
Antioxidants are substances that prevent some harmful chemical reactions in your body. They have numerous health benefits, including protecting your body from chronic disease.
Significant amounts of the following antioxidants are found in apples:
- Quercetin: Slows down carb digestion, helping prevent blood sugar spikes.
- Chlorogenic acid: Helps your body use sugar more efficiently.
- Phlorizin: Slows down sugar absorption and lowers blood sugar levels.
The highest concentrations of beneficial antioxidants are found in Honeycrisp and Red Delicious apples.
Eating apples on a regular basis may help prevent type 2 diabetes, as well as keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Apples are an excellent fruit to include in your diet if you have diabetes.
Most dietary guidelines for diabetics recommend a diet that includes fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
In addition, diets high in fruits and vegetables have repeatedly been linked to lower risks of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
In fact, a review of nine studies found that each serving of fruit that was consumed daily led to a 7% lower risk of heart disease.
While apples are unlikely to cause spikes in your blood sugar levels, they do contain carbs. If you’re counting carbs, be sure to account for the 25 grams of carbs an apple contains.
Also, be sure to monitor your blood sugar after eating apples and see how they affect you personally.
Apples are highly nutritious and have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels. They are safe and healthy for diabetics to enjoy on a regular basis.
Apples are a delicious and healthy food to add to your diet, regardless of whether you have diabetes or not.
Here are some tips for diabetics to include apples in their meal plans:
- Eat it whole: To reap all of the health benefits, eat the apple whole. A large part of the nutrients is in the skin.
- Avoid apple juice: The juice does not have the same benefits as the whole fruit, since it’s higher in sugar and missing the fiber.
- Limit your portion: Stick with one medium apple since larger portions will increase the glycemic load.
- Spread out your fruit intake: Spread your daily fruit intake throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable.