“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This saying has been around for more than 150 years! (1) Countless nutrition fads have come and gone since then, but the apple is here to stay!
But, why are they so good for you? Apples are low in calories and sodium and free of fat and cholesterol. They are high in fiber and water. A medium apple has under 100 calories (about 95) and over 4 grams of fiber. (2) Apples are also loaded with vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytochemicals.
The Many Health Benefits of the Amazing Apple (ref. 3-8)
- They help with weight management – their high fiber and water content makes them filling and low in calories – a great combination for weight management and regularity!
- They may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer – apples are high in cancer-fighting antioxidant phytochemicals, including: quercetin, epicatechin, triterpenoids and, in red apples, anthocyanins. Apples are on the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) list of foods that fight cancer.
- They can boost your brain power – the antioxidants also provide brain protection which may help sharpen your memory and protect against age-related brain diseases.
- They help with heart health – they are high in insoluble fiber which helps lower your cholesterol, and their anti-inflammatory properties may help prevent heart disease.
- They are good for lung health – studies have shown that eating apples may help reduce some respiratory problems, including chronic cough, asthma and lung cancer.
Eat your apple with the peel! And choose whole apples over apple juice. Many of the health benefits of apples are from the fiber and antioxidants found in the peel and the pulp. Eating a whole apple rather than apple juice is also proven to be more satisfying, helping to control your appetite and calorie intake.
Check out these “Appetizing apple ideas” from the American Heart Association:
- Snack on apple slices with peanut butter (compare labels to find one without added salt or sugars).
- Make applesauce by cooking chopped apples with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Make a salad with chopped up apples, walnuts, balsamic vinegar and spinach.
- Add diced apples to your homemade turkey meatloaf.
- Mix canned, low sodium tuna with chopped apples, celery and ¼ teaspoon or less Dijon mustard for a sandwich or salad.
- Slice thin and layer apples with low sodium turkey, low fat, low-sodium cheese and lettuce on a whole wheat tortilla wrap.
- Blend chopped apple, frozen banana, low fat, no added sugar vanilla yogurt and orange juice for a refreshing smoothie.
- Stuff an apple (with core removed) with raisins, cinnamon and oats. Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees F for 45-55 minutes. (10)
The Many Varieties of Apples
There are over 7,500 varieties of apples! (9) While they all have health benefits, some are better for snacking or tossing in salads, while others are better for baking or freezing. You can use this handy chart to help guide your choices:
Chart from http://www.usapple.org
Try this delicious Kale and Apple Salad Recipe from Food Network Kitchens:
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dates
- 1 Honeycrisp apple
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1 ounce pecorino, finely grated (1/4 cup)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the kale, toss to coat and let stand 10 minutes.
- While the kale stands, cut the dates into thin slivers and the apple into thin matchsticks. Add the dates, apples, almonds and cheese to the kale. Season with salt and pepper and toss well.
For more apple information, including information on the different varieties, recipes, nutrition facts and fun facts, check out the US Apple Association website: http://usapple.org/
- Ely M. History behind ‘an apple a day.’ The Washington Post website. Sep 24, 2013. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.
- USDA National Nutrient Database. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.
- Jennings K. 10 Impressive health benefits of apples. Authority Nutrition website. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.
- AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer. American Institute for Cancer Research website. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.
- Apples: A Healthy Temptation. American Institute for Cancer Research website. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.
- Weil AW. Q&A. Eat more apples? DrWeil.com. Sep 24, 2007. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.
- Enjoy the Health Benefits of Apples this Fall. Michigan State University Extension website. Sep 27, 2016. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.
- Hyson D. Apples offer some surprising health benefits.UC Davis Medical Center website. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.
- Apples and More. University of Illinois Extension website. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.
- Meet the Apple Family. American Heart Association website. Accessed Nov 13, 2016.