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Eating an apple a day isn't guaranteed to keep the doctor away, but regularly including this common fruit in your diet can improve your health. Whether you enjoy an apple as part of breakfast or keep this fruit in your desk for a quick snack at work, it's loaded with nutrition and, if you're watching your weight, can even play a helpful role.
A large apple, which measures about 3 1/4 inches in diameter, has 116 calories. An apple of this size also has 30.8 grams of carbohydrates, 23.2 grams of sugar and 5.4 grams of total dietary fiber. This fruit isn't a significant source of protein or fat. Bananas have a comparable caloric value, with 121 calories in a large banana. If you're trying to lose weight, don't be discouraged by the 100-plus calories in an apple, given the fruit's nutritional benefits.
A Few Vitamins
With every bite of an apple, you're increasing your intake of several vitamins. Most notable among these is vitamin C, which provides functions such as the growth of your body's tissues. A large apple provides about 14 percent of the daily recommendation of vitamin C for women and 11 percent for men. Apples are also a source of phytochemicals, which are found in the peel and flesh of the fruit. Taking in these compounds can play a valuable role in lessening your risk of diseases such as cancer.
Apples contain a number of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. This fruit, however, doesn't provide a significant percentage of your daily recommendation of any of these minerals. For example, a large apple's 239 milligrams of potassium might appear significant, but this amount is only 5 percent of the daily recommendation for adults. Because the peel of your apple is packed full of minerals, eat it to get the highest nutritional value.
Two Kinds of Fiber
Apples are an important fruit to add to your diet to help you meet your daily recommendation of fiber. A large apple provides about 22 percent of the daily recommendation of fiber for women and 14 percent for men. Fiber is valuable not only for helping keep your bowels regular, but also for slowing the rate at which your blood glucose rises, improving your colon health and reducing your appetite. Apples contain a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber. The fruit's skin contains the latter type of fiber, which is pivotal in speeding the movement of your food through your intestines. As such, avoid peeling the apple to get the most of its fiber.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Apples, Raw, With Skin
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bananas, Raw
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin C
- Nutrition Journal: Apple Phytochemicals and Their Health Benefits
- MedlinePlus: Potassium in Diet
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Total Water and Macronutrients
- University of California at San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital: Why Fiber Is So Good for You
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Bulking Up on Fiber
- Frans Rombout/iStock/Getty Images