Koslo's Nutrition Solutions

Friday, November 11, 2011

All About Apples!

I grew up in Pennsylvania and am part PA Dutch so I have always had a fondness for apples. While never a big fan of apple cider (I remember finishing a 10K and being greeted with it at the finish – yuck!), I did eat my share of homemade apple dumplings and apple butter. I bake a mean apple bread and love just about any variety. Apples are in season now so I thought a few reminders on their health benefits were in order especially since they don’t really receive much attention.

Apples belong to the Rose family and the apple tree originally came from Eastern Europe and southwestern Asia. Today there are over 7000 varieties on the market due to the work of cultivars. Apple varieties run the gamut from the very tart, to the very sweet and can be stored for quite a long time, 3-4 months in fact.

I am sure you have heard the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and “one bad apple can spoil the bunch” and both are well, actually pretty true. I’ll get to the health benefits momentarily but in terms of the bad apple, a bruised apple releases ethylene gas that decreases the shelf life of other apples it is in contact with.

The health benefits of apples stems primarily from their polyphenol content, a type of phytochemical. Phytochemicals are plant hormones that function as antioxidants and assist in decreasing the risk for many chronic diseases. Anthocyanins are a type of photochemical found in the skin of apples that gives them their red color and decreases the oxidation of cell membranes. Phenolics found in the pulp have both cardio protective properties and are beneficial for blood sugar regulation. While apples are not “excellent” sources of fiber they are classified as a “good” source. One whole apple contains approximately 2-3 grams and about 50% of this is in the form of pectin which has blood fat lowering properties similar to the soluble fiber found in oats. Apples are also a good source of vitamin C. The nutrients in apples are disproportionally present in the skin and since the Environmental Working Group listed apples as one of the 12 foods with the most pesticide residue I would recommend buying organic if you can. If you buy non-organic ask your grocer what type of wax was used. Non-petroleum waxes like carnauba are preferable to petroleum-based apples.

Enjoy apples while they are in season either whole or in one of thousands of recipes. What is your favorite variety and way to relish?


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