Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
Health Benefits of Apple Family Fruits
Apples, pears and related fruit belong to the sub-family pomoideae (also called pome fruit) within the plant family Rosaceae, a.k.a. the rose family—that’s right, apples are related to roses!
Apples originated in Central Asia, where they were first domesticated between 4000 and 10,000 years ago; there are now over 8,000 varieties of apples grown throughout the world (in fact, there are more varieties of apples than of any other fruit!), with 80 million tons of apples produced per year. Apples have been depicted in art, especially as religious symbols, for nearly as long as they have been cultivated.
While apples and pears don’t have particularly impressive Nutrivore Scores, they are linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality (a general indicator of health and longevity). For example, a 2017 meta-analysis showed that the people who ate the most apples and pears had an 18% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people who never ate apples or pears. The authors calculated the dose response and showed that for every serving of apples or pears we consume per week, we reduce risk of type 2 diabetes by 3%! The health benefits of apple family fruit can largely be attributed to their high polyphenol content, including anthocyanins, quercetin, epicatechins, procyanidins, dihydrochalcones (super cool polyphenols that apples are the only concentrated source in the human diet), chlorogenic acid plus triterpenes, fiber and more!
Observational studies have shown that apple consumption significantly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality. Randomized controlled trials have likewise shown that apple consumption can significantly reduce BMI. In one study of postmenopausal women, eating 75 grams per day of dried apple (equivalent to about two medium fresh apples) for a year straight resulted in a 1.5 kg weight loss, significantly lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (by 13% and 24%, respectively), and lowered C-reactive protein levels (a marker of inflammation).
Apples have also been associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers. In particular, extracts from organic Gala apple peels can reduce the survival of prostate cancer cells and breast cancer cells, while increasing a tumor suppressor protein called maspin that negatively regulates metastasis, cell invasion, and angiogenesis. A case-control study found that apple intake (one or more servings per day) was significantly associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer (a 63% reduced risk!). In vitro, apple extract (rich in phenolic compounds) has also been shown to protect against key stages of carcinogenesis in colon cells, including protecting against DNA damage and inhibiting invasion. Because so much of the polyphenol and fiber content of apples are concentrated in their skin, it’s important to eat these fruits unpeeled—and also to consume them whole, rather than juiced!
Want to Know ALL the Easy Steps to Nutrivore?
Get it Directly in Your Inbox!
The Nutrivore Newsletter is a weekly email that delivers bite-size fun facts, practical tips, recipes and resources. Sign up now and get 5 free guides directly to your inbox:
- Easy Steps to Nutrivore 4-page guide
- Nutrivore Foundational Foods 6-page guide
- Nutrivore Score Guide to Food Groups 3-page guide
- Nutrivore Meal Map
- Top 100 Nutrivore Score Foods
Examples of Apple Family Fruits
- Asian pear
- rose hip
Nutrients in Apple Family Fruits
Easily track your servings of Nutrivore Foundational Foods!
The Nutrivore Weekly Serving Matrix
The Nutrivore Weekly Serving Matrix digital resource is an easy-to-use and flexible weekly checklist designed to help you maximize nutrient-density and meet serving suggestions of Nutrivore foundational foods, all without having to weigh or measure your foods!
Includes a 1-hour video tutorial and downloadable interactive guides.
Help me to keep building Nutrivore.com
I’m working on writing more awesome articles on this topic to be featured right here on this webpage. If you’re enjoying the content my team and I have created thus far and would like to see more, you can support our efforts to keep building out this site by joining the Nutrivore community on Patreon!
Plus, you’ll gain exclusive access to the monthly Nutrivore Podcast, a NEW e-book every single month on a Nutrivore foundational food group, including 12 recipes, plus the entire, browsable Nutrivore Score database, and you can ask me all your Nutrivore questions directly! Sign up now and also get 5 free Nutrivore guides as a welcome gift! Win-win!
Expand to see all scientific references for this article.
Chai SC, et al. “Daily Apple Versus Dried Plum: Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Postmenopausal Women.” J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Aug;112(8):1158-68.
Chung WSF, et al. “Modulation of the Human Gut Microbiota by Dietary Fibres Occurs at the Species Level.” BMC Biol. 2016 Jan 11;14:3. doi: 10.1186/s12915-015-0224-3.
Davis M, et al. “Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits: Appealing the Conventional Wisdom That an Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” JAMA Intern Med. 2015 May;175(5):777-83. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5466
Gayer BA, et al. “Effects of Intake of Apples, Pears, or Their Products on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors and Clinical Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Curr Dev Nutr. 2019 Oct 3;3(10):nzz109. doi: 10.1093/cdn/nzz109.
Guo XF, Yang B, Tang J, Jiang JJ, Li D. Apple and pear consumption and type 2 diabetes mellitus risk: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):927-934. doi: 10.1039/c6fo01378c.
Jedrychowski W & Maugeri U. “An Apple a Day May Hold Colorectal Cancer at Bay: Recent Evidence From a Case-Control Study.” Rev Environ Health. Jan-Mar 2009;24(1):59-74. doi: 10.1515/reveh.2009.24.1.59.
Koutsos A, et al. “Apples and Cardiovascular Health–Is the Gut Microbiota a Core Consideration?” Nutrients. 2015 May 26;7(6):3959-98. doi: 10.3390/nu7063959.
Koutsos A, et al. “Effects of Commercial Apple Varieties on Human Gut Microbiota Composition and Metabolic Output Using an In Vitro Colonic Model.” Nutrients. 2017 May 24;9(6):533. doi: 10.3390/nu9060533.
Garcia-Mazcorro JF, et al. “Apple Consumption Is Associated With a Distinctive Microbiota, Proteomics and Metabolomics Profile in the Gut of Dawley Sprague Rats Fed a High-Fat Diet.” PLoS One. 2019 Mar 14;14(3):e0212586. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212586. eCollection 2019.
Oszmianski J, et al. “Comparative study of polyphenolic content and antiradical activity of cloudy and clear apple juices.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 28 Feb 2007, 87(4):573-579.
Reagan-Shaw S, et al. “Antiproliferative Effects of Apple Peel Extract Against Cancer Cells.” Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(4):517-24. doi: 10.1080/01635580903441253.
Shinohara K, et al. “Effect of Apple Intake on Fecal Microbiota and Metabolites in Humans.” Anaerobe. 2010 Oct;16(5):510-5. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2010.03.005. Epub 2010 Mar 19.