A child sitting in a cart eating an apple at an apple orchard.

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Three surprising reasons apples are a healthy pick

  • 20 million pounds of apples are picked each year in Minnesota.
  • 100 varieties of apples are grown commercially in the U.S.
  • Americans eat nearly 27 million apples every day.

The first crisp and juicy bite of a freshly picked apple. Mmm! It’s a favorite fall moment for apple lovers. Honeycrisp, SweeTango, First Kiss— they’re all delicious. And an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Right?

The short answer: Not necessarily, but.

The backstory: The claim originates in Wales, first appearing in a publication in 1866 as, “Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” The modern saying reappeared in 1913.

Researchers tested the modern assertion and came up short. Their evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away any more than other healthy foods. However, the study did find a small number of people who eat an apple a day appear to use fewer prescription medications. A more accurate version of the old saying may be that an apple a day keeps the pharmacist away.

The real benefits

Even though the claim falls short, apples are still a heart-healthy pick — having been shown to help reduce the risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.

Here are three health benefits of apples:

  1. An apple is a low-calorie snack option for when hunger strikes between meals. A medium apple is a 95-calorie treat that can help keep you feeling full in between meals, perhaps making you less likely to grab a high-calorie snack if you’re trying to shed a few pounds.
  2. An apple delivers a dose of flavonoids. They’re the chemical compounds that give apples color and some medicinal powers, like influencing gut bacteria in a way that lowers blood pressure. Flavonoids also lower the risk for heart disease, preserve brain function and even help fight wrinkles.
  3. An apple is a tasty source of fiber, and many of us don’t get enough of it. Even better, apples deliver soluble fiber, which forms a gel-like substance in your stomach that can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels, and slow digestion

Pro tip: Fresh, whole apples offer the most nutrients. Whenever possible, keep the skin in the mix. That’s where a lot of the apple’s good stuff is found and is a big reason why apples are spotlighted as a heart-healthy food and part of heart-healthy diets.

Kitchen inspiration

Hopefully, you’re inspired to dig out your family’s apple recipes for homemade apple pie, apple crisp and apple butter. If you’re looking for new ways to add apples to your diet and dishes, check this list of apples – five ways.

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