Everyone’s heard the old expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But according to researchers from Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, apples can do more than prevent illness. They can also help you conquer your competition by improving endurance.
In the school's study, 18 healthy volunteers received either Applephenon [a polyphenol extract from unripe apples] or a placebo of vitamin C [ascorbic acid]. They were then were put through two fatigue-inducing workload trials on a bicycle ergometer for two hours at a time. Thirty minutes after the start of the tests and 30 minutes before the end, the subjects also performed non-workload trials at maximum velocity for 10 seconds.
Researchers found maximum velocity was higher in the group that received Applephenon prior to the test than among those who received the placebo. This led to the conclusion that Applephenon mimics antioxidant activity, reducing physical fatigue.
While the jury is still out on its long-term effects, it seems that the polyphenol in apples can be used as a part of a pre-workout meal, helping to keep physical fatigue at bay.
Research from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2006 suggested that drinking apple juice increases production of neurotransmitters, resulting in improved memory. If you've ever forgotten a play going from the sideline to the huddle, including more apple juice in your diet is something to consider.
Herbal medicine recipes also use uncooked apples to combat diarrhea and gastric flu. We’re not carrying a brief for herbal medicine, but unless you’re Michael Jordan, anything that helps stave off the flu is welcome. Not to mention, athletes need to be on the field to show off their talents, not in the bathroom.
Another benefit of including apples in your diet is weight loss. The fiber in apples [about five grams in one medium-sized apple] absorbs water, expanding the stomach so you feel full sooner. Just make sure you don’t peel the apple, since two-thirds of the fiber, along with antioxidants, are in the skin. However, feel free to wash it with water to avoid ingesting pesticides.
Research on apples continues, but clearly they have benefits for high-intensity athletes looking to maintain weight and keep a high level of athleticism throughout the duration of a game.