As the old saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” The fruit is known for its vitamin C, as a good source of fiber, and its legendary powers at sucking up to grade school teachers. But what else can the all-powerful apple do? Is there more to the apple than the old wives’ tale is letting on? Absolutely. After decades of using the apple to help kick the flu, the fruit has proved it’s more than just health food; it can help keep you awake. That’s right, that healthy apple, the same one that you trade for a baguette at Panera Bread, has similar effects to those of coffee.

Do apples have caffeine?

No. Not even a little bit. Apples, as a pomaceous fruit, do not naturally contain caffeine. They do, however, have about 13 grams of sugar – natural sugar, which is much healthier than the 4 grams of Sweet’N Low mixed into your daily coffee. So despite the high sugar levels, eating an apple is a much healthier alternative to drinking coffee. The sugars are also one of the main reasons apples have similar effects to caffeine.

Vitamins from apples, specifically the skin, are released slowly throughout the body, making you feel more awake. There is no jolt of energy. No mood swings. And, most importantly, no crash. The results wear off as gradually as they started. With this argument, though, any healthy snack can help fight sleepiness. (Snacks that are too sugary or fatty will actually have the opposite effect, causing your body to crash.) So why apples? What do they have that other healthy foods don’t?

The vast information source that is the internet offered me several possible explanations to this question:

  1. It is actually the crunch of eating the apple that wakes you up.
  2. Apples are the chief chemical in methamphetamines (Although I wasn’t able to consult with a reliable drug addict for a source, this was my favorite — and least likely — answer.)
  3. Its “gentle and lingering” scent naturally wakens the body.
  4. It contains natural glucose.

After some further research, I discovered that number four is the correct answer. The process of digesting the glucose (natural sugars) helps wake up your body, and then keep it that way – for about as long as it takes for your body to process the apple.

But, as was stated before, under this definition, any healthy foods can have the same effects. So how did apples get all the hype? Perhaps it’s because they contain less natural sugar? (The average banana has 14 grams, while an orange contains a whopping 23 grams of sugar.) Or maybe it’s the combined sensory experience that can be achieved when eating an apple. (When was the last time you heard a banana crunch?) Whatever the reasoning, it has worked – a simple Google search will result in hundreds of articles coming to the apple’s defense.

And while the apple may not replace your regular coffee routine all together, it offers a healthier alternative to staying awake. So the next time you’re feeling a little tired or need an extra pick-me-up, pass on the coffee and try a fruit salad instead.

Bethaney Wallace is a social media advocate for the mortgage rate information site, Mortgage Sum. She is passionate about blogging and eating fruits. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily of Have a Namaste.