The Power of Apple Polyphenols


Spring green, golden, or ruby red, apples have been treasured for centuries for their delicious taste and health-giving properties.

Avalon, the Celtic heaven or afterlife, was believed to have been an apple orchard. And although the Bible doesn't specify which fruit was more tempting to Adam than paradise, it is the apple that has received this popular distinction.

While the benefit of apples to human health is part of our common lore, most people can't tell you why. Beyond fiber, vitamin content, and low glycemic index, apples' most significant benefits may very well result from their polyphenol content.

Apple Polyphenols Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Polyphenols are plant compounds whose benefits are the subject of a good deal of research. Apple skin, in particular, is rich in several polyphenols, including phloridzin, which helps protect against glycation: the damaging cross-linkage between sugar and protein that ages human tissue.

This polyphenol additionally maintains healthy blood sugar levels via the inhibition of an enzyme known as glucose-6-phosphatase.

Chlorogenic acid, a compound that gives coffee some of its health benefits, is also present in apples. Chlorogenic acid supports healthy glucose levels by inhibiting the enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase in addition to other mechanisms.

Apple Polyphenols Support Weight Loss

In a study of adults who were overweight or obese, supplementation with apple polyphenols resulted in one pound of weight loss, while a control group experienced weight gain.1

Visceral fat (belly fat) was reduced in polyphenol-supplemented participants, while it increased in the controls.

Apple Polyphenols Fight Health Problems

In addition to weight gain, apples and/or their polyphenols have been shown to be protective against other age-related conditions.

These studies indicate that apples could potentially combat colorectal cancer, chronic allergies, and bacterial or viral infections.2-7

Apple Polyphenols Support Longevity

Not only could apple polyphenols help reduce the risk of disease, but they may extend life as well. They have been shown to extend the life span of the roundworm (C. elegans), yeast, and fruit flies.8-10

In C. elegans, apple polyphenols extended the average life span to an extent similar to resveratrol,8 a compound found in red grapes and wine. These polyphenols appear to exert their benefit via their effect on the sirtuins, a family of enzymes that are also affected by resveratrol.

In the fruit fly study, apple polyphenols extended the average lifespan by 10%, accompanied by the activation of the antioxidant enzymes.10

Eat More Apples or Supplement with an Apple Extract

Due to apple peel's high polyphenol content, it is recommended to consume the whole fruit unpeeled. For this reason, it is important to purchase organic apples, whose skins are less likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues.

Alternatively, apple polyphenol supplements derived from organic fruit are a super easy way to get your "apple a day", if your local grocery store doesn't carry organic produce.

References:

  1. J Oleo Sci. 2010;59(6):321-38. 
  2. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2010 Jan;19(1):42-7. 
  3. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2006;16(5):283-9. 
  4. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Dec;54(12):1773-80. 
  5. Microb Pathog. 2007 May-Jun;42(5-6):215-24. 
  6. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jun 23;58(12):7172-9. 
  7. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Apr 27;59(8):3730-7. 
  8. Planta Med. 2011 Jan;77(2):122-7. 
  9. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2011;75(5):854-8. 
  10. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 9;59(5):2097-106.

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