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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits

Jeanelle Boyer and Rui Hai Liu*

Author Affiliations

Department of Food Science and Institute of Comparative and Environmental Toxicology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-7201 USA

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Nutrition Journal 2004, 3:5  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-3-5

Published: 12 May 2004

Abstract

Evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, and phytochemicals including phenolics, flavonoids and carotenoids from fruits and vegetables may play a key role in reducing chronic disease risk. Apples are a widely consumed, rich source of phytochemicals, and epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of apples with reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes. In the laboratory, apples have been found to have very strong antioxidant activity, inhibit cancer cell proliferation, decrease lipid oxidation, and lower cholesterol. Apples contain a variety of phytochemicals, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, all of which are strong antioxidants. The phytochemical composition of apples varies greatly between different varieties of apples, and there are also small changes in phytochemicals during the maturation and ripening of the fruit. Storage has little to no effect on apple phytochemicals, but processing can greatly affect apple phytochemicals. While extensive research exists, a literature review of the health benefits of apples and their phytochemicals has not been compiled to summarize this work. The purpose of this paper is to review the most recent literature regarding the health benefits of apples and their phytochemicals, phytochemical bioavailability and antioxidant behavior, and the effects of variety, ripening, storage and processing on apple phytochemicals.

Keywords:
apples; antioxidants; phytochemicals; cancer; cardiovascular disease; phenolics; flavonoids; fruit