Apples: Health Benefits and Uses | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Apples: Health Benefits and Other Uses


An Apple a Day might just Keep the Doctor Away!

Print Friendly and PDF

It’s apple season again! Here are some of the numerous health benefits of apples, as well as some of their other interesting uses!

At our farm, we don’t grow tree fruit, but we do buy and enjoy a lot of local apples from late September through the winter months.

In seasons when the Baldwins or Northern Spy apples are abundant, I generally buy a bushel to stash in the root cellar, alongside the homegrown cabbages and carrots. (They store best in a cold, humid environment.)

We eat apples fresh, baked (stuffed with walnuts, drizzled with honey and a little cinnamon), in sauce(s), in poultry stuffings, cut up and sautéed as a side dish, and in pies and pandowdies.

Apple cider. Photo by minadezhda/ShutterStock.Delicious apple cider. Photo by minadezhda/ShutterStock.

Some households also make their own cider (including hard cider, the drink of choice of our Colonial ancestors), cider vinegar, pectin, and “leather.” 

Find some of our favorite apple recipes here!

Health Benefits of Apples

Science is providing new relevance to the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” A study published in 2013 in the British Medical Journal comparing cardiovascular mortality rates between people taking the statin drugs and those eating an apple a day concludes, “We find that [the] 150-year-old proverb is able to match modern medicine and is likely to have fewer side effects.”

A growing body of research suggests that eating apples and apple products may help prevent cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, asthma, allergies, diabetes, some cancers, and osteoporosis, as well as help with weight management. So eat up!

Apples contain unique combinations of phytocompounds, which apple trees produces to help combat environmental stresses such as diseases and ultraviolet radiation. When we eat apples, some of these anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds may help protect our own organs and tissues.

Apples and bananas. Photo by Martin Carlsson/ShutterStock.Keep apples with other fruits to hasten their ripening. Photo by Martin Carlsson/ShutterStock.

What else can apples do?

In an earlier post, I listed a few of the extraordinary number of uses of apple cider vinegar. Fresh apples, too, have other uses around the house:

Ripen other fruit: Fresh apples give off ethylene gas, which will speed up the ripening of other fruit. Just set unripe pears, tomatoes, or bananas in a bowl or paper bag with a couple of apples and the unripe fruit will ripen more quickly than it would otherwise. Because of the ethylene gas, it’s a good idea not to store apples in your refrigerator or in the same storage space as potatoes, as they tend to make the potatoes sprout earlier.

Keep baked goods from drying out: Cakes, muffins, homemade breads will stay moist longer if you store them in a bag or container containing a cut apple. Additionally, using apple cider in place of water can give your baked goods a richer apple taste.

Soften a lump of hardened brown sugar: Just tuck a piece of cut apple in a sealed bag with the brown sugar for a few hours and it will soften up enough to break apart.

Remove excess salt from a soup: Just drop a few pieces of peeled apple into the soup, stew for a few minutes, and remove the apples, which should have sopped up the excess salt.

Reduce inflammation: Grate the peel of an apple into a bowl, then apply the grated peel to your skin. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before washing it off with warm water. Anti-inflammatory compounds in the apple peel help to reduce inflammation.

Make a spooky apple head: Great for Halloween, shrunken apple heads are an easy and creepy way to decorate! Plus, making them is a fun activity for kids. Learn how to make apple heads here.

What are your favorite uses for apples during apple season? Let us know in the comments below!

2023 Almanac Club