From the Garden of Eden to Snow White and Johnny Appleseed, the crisp nutritious apple has quite a history. Thanks to science and research, the apple’s back—back on top of the nutrition scale, that is. There is growing evidence that the apple just might be the key to longevity. From lowering cholesterol to preventing cancer, it’s time to give the nutritious apple another look.
September kicks off the season for apples, the time when one of the world’s best-loved and nutritious fruits is harvested for the coming year. Though available from cold storage all year, they are at their flavor and nutrition peak from September-November. There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples. Grown worldwide, China is the leading producer, with the United States in second, followed by Iran, Turkey, Russia, Italy, India, and Mexico as world producers.
What is the Nutrition in Apples?
One large apple has approximately 120 calories, 32 g. carbohydrate, 5 g of fiber, 25 g sugars, and 1 g. of protein. Apples are cholesterol and sodium free.
What are the health benefits of Apples?
Over the past several years, apple consumption has been linked with reduced cancer risk in many studies. A 2001 Mayo Clinic study indicated that quercetin, a flavonoid abundant in apples, helps prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells. A Cornell University study indicated phytochemicals in the skin of an apple inhibited the reproduction of colon cancer cells by 43 percent. The National Cancer Institute has reported that foods containing flavonoids like those found in apples may reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 50 percent.
- Heart disease and stroke prevention — Eating apples and apple products reduces oxidative stress in the body, boosts heart function and health, and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Brain Health — Researchers from Cornell University found that apple nutrients protected brain neurons against oxidative damage. Such damage can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The study highlighted the antioxidant quercetin as a principle compound responsible for the protective effect.
- Weight Loss — Because apples are high in fiber, they will keep you full longer, and help to prevent overeating. TIP: Have a small amount of cheese with apples to stay full even longer.
- Digestive health — Researchers discovered apples and apple products could boost intestinal health by increasing the numbers of good gut bacteria. The friendly bacteria in the intestines feed on apple pectin, a fiber found abundantly in apples.
- Reduced symptoms of Alzheimer’s — A clinical trial showed that drinking apple juice significantly improved mood and behavior among a group of patients diagnosed with moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease. Cornell University research also suggests that quercetin may be the compound in apples that protects brain cells against oxidative stress associated with Alzheimer’s.
Common varieties of Apples include: Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathon, Jonagold, McIntosh, Red Delicious and Rome Beauty. Be brave and experiment with all the beautiful and delicious varieties available.
How to select Apples:
If you are looking for an apple to eat with your sandwich, then you want a ripe or nearly ripe apple with full color and no discoloration or soft spots. If you are looking for a “baking” apple to be used in a pie or crumble, look for older apples that might be just past the ripe stage.
How to store Apples:
Store apples in the fridge to slow ripening and retain flavor. For home storage, most varieties of apple can be held for approximately two weeks when kept at the coolest part of the refrigerator. To prevent apples from absorbing odors, store apart from foods with strong smells, such as onions. Always wash apples with soap and water, or a fruit and vegetable wash, and rinse well. As tempting as leaving apples in the fruit bowl is, this is the poorest means for keeping them fresh. TIP: Dip apple slices into 3-parts water to 1-part lemon juice to impede browning.
Check out these tips on how to include apples in your meals in 20 minutes or less:
Apple-Sausage saute – Heat 2 tsp olive oil in large nonstick frying pan. Add 1 lb precooked chicken or pork sausage cut into ½ inch slices. Cook until brown and remove from pan. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and add 4 medium tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, quartered and cut into ½ inch wedges. Add ¼ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp thyme, and 2 T maple syrup. Cook, tossing often, until tender. Return chicken/sausage to pan and heat through.
Autumn Salad – Whisk 4 tsp olive oil, 1 T white wine vinegar, 2 tsp honey, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp black pepper in large bowl. Add 3 medium tart apples, such as Braeburn, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise, 1 ½ cups thinly sliced red cabbage, and 1/3 cup crumbling cheese, (such as blue or feta), ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion, and ¼ cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts. Toss to combine.
Cheddar-Apple melt – Top an English muffin with jam or chutney, 4 thin apple slices, and cheddar cheese. Toast in a toaster oven or under broiler until cheese is melted. It’s hard to go wrong with this winning combination.
Baked Apple Recipe
Click on this recipe for delicious, nutritious, and healthy Baked Apples.
Check out this link where you can find pick-your-own farms by state, with picking tips, canning directions, and more; or to find a festival near you. How fun is that?
Autumn is around the corner, so don’t forget to include apples in your diet. Whether it be hot mugs of cider, brown betty’s, caramel apples, or eaten fresh, the age-old advice of an apple a day sure doesn’t fall far from the truth. ~ Enjoy!