Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Apples

One of my favorite things about fall is all the wonderful, ripe apples. I love going apple picking and I love eating them afterwards. There are so many varieties that there is bound to be at least one variety that everyone likes. There are soft apples, crisp apples, sweet apples, sour apples, red, green or gold apples, the list goes on and on. You can also eat them in so many ways. My personal favorite, and the healthiest way, is to just eat the apple raw, but you can also use them for apple pie, apple sauce, apple crisp, apple salads, in savory dishes, in sweet dishes, apple muffins, apple bread, etc, etc, etc.

I am always amazed that something so tasty can be so good for you too. A medium apple contains about 80 calories, zero fat, zero sodium, zero cholesterol, 5g of dietary fiber (about as much as a bowl of bran cereal), and about 8% of the RDA of vitamin C. The sugars (about 16g for a medium apple) are complex carbohydrates so they take longer to digest, giving you an energy boost that is more even, lasts longer and does not spike, like sugary snacks do. Studies indicate that eating apples regularly (generally, once a day) help reduce your risk of digestive cancers, breast cancer, lung cancer, and alzheimer's disease. They are a great source of antioxidants (helps repair damaged cells, therefore reducing risk of cancer), phytonutrients (help lower cholesterol, reduce risk of heart disease, slow certain cancers) and flavonoids (help reduce cancer risk). Apples also contain potassium which helps stabilize blood pressure. Other vitamins and nutrients found in apples are vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, niacin, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. The fiber in apples is mostly soluble and helps to lower cholesterol levels. It also helps you to feel full for a longer period of time.

If you are not one who cares for raw apples, try using apples in a recipe. You can use them as they are such as in baked apples or waldorf salad, or you can use applesauce as a fat-free substitute for oil and butter in baked goods (personally, I do NOT substitute all the fat in baked goods, but have had good results subbing applesauce for about 75% of the fat). If you have a recipe that you use for a baked good that is a little on the dry side, add a little applesauce to the ingredients and you will find it more moist.

However you choose to eat your apple, just be sure to eat them. There is truth behind the old adage, "An apple a day, keeps the doctor away." While they may not have realized just how much truth or why it worked that way, even the earliest people understood the goodness of apples.

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