Apples and Asthma: A Healthy Mix

Can an apple a day keep the doctor away? If you suffer from asthma, you may find that eating apples on a regular basis can indeed offer protective benefits against asthma symptoms. In fact, the apples and asthma connection is so strong that pregnant women who eat apples even find that their unborn children will ultimately reap some of the positive effects on their lungs.

The Apples and Asthma Link

While many fruits and vegetables provide important nutrients, over the years, scientists have found compelling evidence of the link between apples and asthma, including improved lung functioning. Researchers suspect that the connection comes from the phytochemical makeup of apples. They contain flavonoids, which seem to help decrease bronchial hypersensitivity and also lower the risk of asthma.

In an article in the Nutrition Journal in 2004, scientists looked at a variety of research efforts studying the relationship between apples and asthma, and they noticed a strong inverse relationship between them that doesn't seem to exist with other fruit intake.  Researchers also suggested that people need to eat at least two apples a week to get the full effect of the improvements in lung function and reduced asthma risk.

Pregnancy Benefits

The connection between apples and lung functioning seems to be so strong that it even transfers to unborn babies. A study conducted by researchers from the Netherlands and Scotland followed nearly 2,000 pregnant women to determine if their diet had any impact on the health of their children later in life. The findings of this apples and asthma study, which appeare d in the Spring 2007 Thorax Journal, determined that mothers who ate apples while they were pregnant transferred some of the health benefits, including lower risk of asthma and wheezing, to their fetuses.

When researchers looked more specifically at the apples and asthma link, they found that the children born to those mothers who ate four or more apples a week while pregnant were close to 40 percent less l ikely to have wheezing, and more than 50 percent less likely to have a formal diagnosis of asthma, compared to children whose mothers ate one or less apples a week while pregnant.

Widespread Benefits

In addition to reducing asthma risk, apples seem to offer a range of other important health advantages. Researchers believe that eating apples can also reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and type II diabetes.

Therefore, with so much to gain, next time you want a snack, you may want to reach for an apple and enjoy all of the benefits you'll get.


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Nutrition Journal