We bet you never knew there was a whole day dedicated to the humble apple! Last week’s Apple Day marked the start of the celebration of all things apples that takes us into Autumn. From the tart Bramley apple, perfect for a hearty crumble, to a ruby red delicious snack, Apple Day honours the harvest and wide varieties of these autumnal fruits.
We’ve all heard that old cliché, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but what truths might this adage hold? Love Your Gut is getting to the ‘core’ of this!
A delicious healthy snack
At only ~50-60 kcal, apples are a deliciously sweet low-calorie snack that make a great alternative to high sugar and high fat snacks like chocolate bars or crisps and a great way to add some fruit to your five-a-day. Apples also contain vitamin C, which is one of the 13 essential vitamins important for keeping the body in tip-top condition. From keeping our skin, bones, and blood vessels healthy to aiding wound healing, apples, alongside many other fruits and vegetables, are a fantastic way to give yourself some much-needed vitamin C(1).
Apples are not to be underestimated! These little red and green gems are a fibre powerhouse. Adults are recommended to have 30g of fibre per day, but only 9% of the UK population manage to achieve this (2). Apple skins contain insoluble fibre, a type that cannot be broken down by our gut. It acts by absorbing water and bulking up our stools, promoting regular bowel movements(3). Therefore, Insoluble fibre can help reduce our chances of experiencing constipation. So, think twice before you peel the skin off your apples!
Apples also contain soluble fibre, which can be broken down by our gut. Like insoluble fibre, soluble fibre ensures regular, hassle-free bathroom visits but it goes a step further. It keeps us fuller for longer and increases the absorption of vital nutrients from our food by the gut(4,5). It has also been associated with lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers(4,6).
The Power of Apple Polyphenols
Apples are a rich source of polyphenols, which are compounds found in plants that our gut bugs love. Gut bacteria have been found to digest polyphenols to produce compounds that have been linked with improved heart and brain health(7). Who would have thought that these lunchbox staples were full of so much goodness?!
Add plant power to your diet
A diverse diet is key in allowing your little gut bugs to thrive! Expand your palate by eating different varieties and colours of apples. If you’ve always gone for Pink Ladies, why not mix it up and go for a Granny Smith or Gala apple?
Combining apples with other plant foods is a great way to expand your plant points for the week. Research has shown that having 30 different plant sources per week helps to increase the diversity of the bugs in your gut, which has positive effects on your health(8,9). This isn’t limited to just fruits or vegetables but also includes grains (e.g. brown rice, oats, quinoa, rye flour), nuts and seeds (e.g. cashews, peanuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds), herbs (e.g. basil, mint, parsley) and spices (e.g. black pepper, cumin, turmeric)!
Thinking about adding more apples to your diet?
- Add some diced apples with a dash of cinnamon to porridge to make a cosy autumnal breakfast.
- Try an apple and walnut salad with crumbled, tangy feta for well-balanced combination of sweet and savoury flavours.
- Spread any nut butter on some apple slices and dot them with raisins for a protein-rich treat
- If sweet treats aren’t your go-to, opt for a savoury snack by pairing cubed apple pieces with mature cheddar cubes
Love Your Gut recipes
Why not check out our banana and coconut overnight oats recipe? You can add in some chopped apples for an extra burst of flavour. Or try your hand at spiced pork tenderloin with sautéed apples for a delightful and nutritious meal?
- Vitamins and minerals – Vitamin C – NHS (2023). Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-c/ (Accessed: 4 October 2023).
- Action on Fibre | The Food & Drink Federation (2023). Available at: https://www.fdf.org.uk/fdf/what-we-do/diet-and-health/action-on-fibre/ (Accessed: 4 October 2023).
- Fiber | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2022). Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/ (Accessed: 4 October 2023).
- Koutsos, A., Tuohy, K.M. and Lovegrove, J.A. (2015) ‘Apples and Cardiovascular Health—Is the Gut Microbiota a Core Consideration?’, Nutrients, 7(6), p. 3959. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/NU7063959.
- How to get more fibre into your diet – NHS (2022). Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/digestive-health/how-to-get-more-fibre-into-your-diet/ (Accessed: 4 October 2023).
- Silva, Y.P., Bernardi, A. and Frozza, R.L. (2020) ‘The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids From Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication’, Frontiers in Endocrinology, 11, p. 508738. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3389/FENDO.2020.00025/BIBTEX.
- Wan, M.L.Y., Co, V.A. and El-Nezami, H. (2021) ‘Dietary polyphenol impact on gut health and microbiota’, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 61(4), pp. 690–711. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2020.1744512.
- Eggersdorfer, M. and Wyss, A. (2018) ‘Carotenoids in human nutrition and health’, Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 652, pp. 18–26. doi:10.1016/j.abb.2018.06.001.
- McDonald, D. et al. (2018). American Gut: an Open Platform for Citizen Science Microbiome Research. mSystems, 3(3), e00031-18. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSystems.00031-18