Letter to the editor

Apple as a source of dietary phytonutrients: an update on the potential health benefits of apple

Tae Kyung Hyun1, Keum-Il Jang2[*]

1Department of Industrial Plant Science and Technology, College of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju 361-763, Republic of Korea

2Department of Food Science and Biotechnology, College of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju 361-763, Republic of Korea

EXCLI J 2016;15:Doc565


Dear Editor,

Since several studies have demonstrated the pharmacological activities (anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, etc.) of fruits and vegetables, it has been suggested that a daily intake of apples is associated with the prevention of several chronic diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and different types of cancers (Boeing et al., 2012[1]; Kalinowska et al., 2014[15]).

Apples, the world's second most consumed fruit after bananas, contain several nutrients together with non-nutrients such as dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins. In addition, apples possess rich contents of polyphenols, which are divided into several groups including hydroxybenzoic acids, hydroxycinnamic acids and their derivatives, flavonols, dihydrochalcones, anthocyanids, monomeric flavanols and oligomeric flavanols (Kalinowska et al., 2014[15]). Due to the high nutraceutical values and various polyphenols of apples, apples have exhibited beneficial effects on the health against cancer, asthma and pulmonary dysfunction, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's disease, decline of normal aging, weight management and diabetes (Hyson, 2011[11]). These findings have supported the age-old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

The present report summarizes key recent studies that have demonstrated the biological and pharmacological properties of apple and its products (Table 1(Tab. 1)) (References in Table 1: Anti-cancer: Delphi et al., 2015[5]; Walia et al., 2014[28]; Schiavano et al., 2015[25]; Hung et al., 2015[10]; Li et al., 2014[21]; Kao et al., 2015[16]; Qiao et al., 2015[23]; Jedrychowski et al., 2010[12]; Le Marchand et al., 2000[19]; Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects: Jiang et al., 2016[14]; Sun et al., 2016[26]; Sampath et al., 2016[24]; O'Neil et al., 2015[22]; Bouderbala et al., 2016[2]; Fathy and Drees, 2016[7]; Dange and Deshpande, 2013[4]; Knekt et al., 2002[17]; Anti-inflammation: Jensen et al., 2014[13]; Espley et al., 2014[6]; Lee et al., 2014[20]; Hepato-protective: Cheng et al., 2014[3]; Krajka-Kuźniak et al., 2015[18]; Antigenotoxicity: Gomes de Moura et al., 2015[8]; Reduction of cardiotoxicity: Vineetha et al., 2014[27]; Etc.: Hodgson et al., 2016[9]). We hope that this report will further spur the research on the potential application of apple, its products and its biologically active compounds for preventing several chronic diseases in humans.


This study was supported by Chungbuk Industrial Academic Institutional Consortium for Apple.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



1. Boeing H, Bechthold A, Bub A, Ellinger S, Haller D, Kroke A, et al. Critical review: vegetables and fruit in the prevention of chronic diseases. Eur J Nutr. 2012;51:637-63.
2. Bouderbala H, Kaddouri H, Kheroua O, Saidi D. Anti-obesogenic effect of apple cider vinegar in rats subjected to a high fat diet. Ann Cardiol Angeiol (Paris). 2016;65:208-13.
3. Cheng D, Zhu C, Wang C, Xu H, Cao J, Jiang W. Hepatoprotective effects of apple polyphenol extract on aluminum-induced liver oxidative stress in the rat. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2014;92:109-16.
4. Dange NS, Deshpande K. Effect of apple on fasting blood sugar and plasma lipids levels in type ii diabetes. Int J Pharm Biol Sci. 2013;4:511-7.
5. Delphi L, Sepehri H, Khorramizadeh MR, Mansoori F. Pectic-oligoshaccharides from apples induce apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in MDA-MB-231 cells, a model of human breast cancer. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16:5265-71.
6. Espley RV, Butts CA, Laing WA, Martell S, Smith H, McGhie TK, et al. Dietary flavonoids from modified apple reduce inflammation markers and modulate gut microbiota in mice. J Nutr. 2014;144:146-54.
7. Fathy SM, Drees EA. Protective effects of Egyptian cloudy apple juice and apple peel extract on lipid peroxidation, antioxidant enzymes and inflammatory status in diabetic rat pancreas. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016;16:8.
8. Gomes de Moura CF, Pidone Ribeiro FA, Lucke G, Boiago Gollucke AP, Fujiyama Oshima CT, Ribeiro DA. Apple juice attenuates genotoxicity and oxidative stress induced by cadmium exposure in multiple organs of rats. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2015;32:7-12.
9. Hodgson JM, Prince RL, Woodman RJ, Bondonno CP, Ivey KL, Bondonno N, et al. Apple intake is inversely associated with all-cause and disease-specific mortality in elderly women. Br J Nutr. 2016;115:860-7.
10. Hung C-H, Huang C-C, Hsu L-S, Kao S-H, Wang C-J. Apple polyphenol inhibits colon carcinoma metastasis via disrupting Snail binding to focal adhesion kinase. J Func Foods. 2015;12:80-91.
11. Hyson DA. A comprehensive review of apples and apple components and their relationship to human health. Adv Nutr. 2011;2:408-20.
12. Jedrychowski W, Maugeri U, Popiela T, Kulig J, Sochacka-Tatara E, Pac A, et al. A. Case-control study on beneficial effect of regular consumption of apples on colorectal cancer risk in a population with relatively low intake of fruits and vegetables. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2010;19:42-7.
13. Jensen GS, Attridge VL, Benson KF, Beaman JL, Carter SG, Ager D. Consumption of dried apple peel powder increases joint function and range of motion. J Med Food. 2014;17:1204-13.
14. Jiang T, Gao X, Wu C, Tian F, Lei Q, Bi J, et al. Apple-derived pectin modulates gut microbiota, improves gut barrier function, and attenuates metabolic endotoxemia in rats with diet-induced obesity. Nutrients. 2016;8:126.
15. Kalinowska M, Bielawska A, Lewandowska-Siwkiewicz H, Priebe W, Lewandowski W. Apples: content of phenolic compounds vs. variety, part of apple and cultivation model, extraction of phenolic compounds, biological properties. Plant Physiol Biochem. 2014;84:169-88.
16. Kao Y-L, Kuo Y-M, Lee Y-R, Yamg S-F, Chen W-R, Lee H-J. Apple polyphenol induces cell apoptosis, cell cycle arrest at G2/M phase, and mitotic catastrophe in human bladder transitional carcinoma cells. J Func Foods. 2015;14:384-94.
17. Knekt P, Kumpulainen J, Järvinen R, Rissanen H, Heliövaara M, Reunanen A, et al. Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic diseases. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76:560-8.
18. Krajka-Kuźniak V, Szaefer H, Ignatowicz E, Adamska T, Markowski J, Baer-Dubowska W. Influence of cloudy apple juice on n-nitrosodiethylamine- induced liver injury and phases I and II biotransformation enzymes in rat liver. Acta Pol Pharm. 2015;72:267-76.
19. Le Marchand L, Murphy SP, Hankin JH, Wilkens LR, Kolonel LN. Intake of flavonoids and lung cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000;92:154-60.
20. Lee W-C, Jao H-Y, Hsu J-D, Lee Y-R, Wu M-J, Kao Y-L, et al. Apple polyphenols reduce inflammation response of the kidneys in unilateral ureteral obstruction rats. J Func Foods. 2014;11:1-11.
21. Li Y, Niu Y, Sun Y, Mei L, Zhang B, Li Q, et al. An apple oligogalactan potentiates the growth inhibitory effect of celecoxib on colorectal cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2014;66:29-37.
22. O'Neil CE, Nicklas TA, Fulgoni III VL. Consumption of apples is associated with a better diet quality and reduced risk of obesity in children: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2003-2010. Nutr J. 2015;14:48.
23. Qiao A, Wang Y, Xiang L, Wang C, He X. A novel triterpenoid isolated from apple functions as an anti-mammary tumor agent via a mitochondrial and caspase-independent apoptosis pathway. J Agric Food Chem. 2015;63:185-91.
24. Sampath C, Zhu Y, Sang S, Ahmedna M. Bioactive compounds isolated from apple, tea, and ginger protect against dicarbonyl induced stress in cultured human retinal epithelial cells. Phytomedicine. 2016;23:200-13.
25. Schiavano GF, De Santi M, Brandi G, Fanelli M, Bucchini A, Giamperi L, et al. Inhibition of breast cancer cell proliferation and in vitro tumorigenesis by a new red apple cultivar. PLoS One. 2015;10:e0135840.
26. Sun L, Chen W, Meng Y, Yang X, Yuan L, Guo Y. Interactions between polyphenols in thinned young apples and porcine pancreatic α-amylase: Inhibition, detailed kinetics and fluorescence quenching. Food Chem. 2016;208:51-60.
27. Vineetha VP, Girija S, Soumya RS, Raghu KG. Polyphenol-rich apple (Malus domestica L.) peel extract attenuates arsenic trioxide induced cardiotoxicity in H9c2 cells via its antioxidant activity. Food Funct. 2014;5:502-11.
28. Walia M, Rawat K, Bhushan S, Padwad YS, Singh B. Fatty acid composition, physicochemical properties, antioxidant and cytotoxic activity of apple seed oil obtained from apple pomace. J Sci Food Agric. 2014;94:929-34.

Table 1: Recent studies on biological and pharmacological activities of apple and its products

[*] Corresponding Author:

Keum-Il Jang, Department of Food Science and Biotechnology, College of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju 361-763, Republic of Korea; Phone: +82-43-261-2569, Fax: +82-43-271-4412, eMail: jangki@chungbuk.ac.kr