The adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” has been around a long time — even before research proved that this delicious little fruit packs a powerful punch when it comes to health and nutrition.
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Today, health experts know you can’t go wrong with incorporating an apple (or two) into your daily diet.
Stephanie Walling, a registered dietitian with Wellmont Health System, says apples may help with weight loss, may help control asthma and may even benefit cognitive function.
“Apples are low in calories, good sources of fiber and are salt-, fat- and cholesterol-free. A small apple with the peeling on has about 80 calories and contains about four grams of fiber. I suggest eating apples with the peeling on because two-thirds of the fiber and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel,” Walling said.
Lisa Gilreath, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes instructor at Mountain States Health Alliance’s Indian Path Medical Center Health Resources Center, said that unlike other fruits such as bananas, known to be high in potassium, and oranges, known to be high in vitamin C, the apple doesn’t have just one stand-out nutritional component. Instead, apples boast several different essential nutrients.
“Although they don’t really stand out in being high in a particular vitamin or mineral, they are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. And it’s this soluble fiber that is important because this will help you lower cholesterol, particularly the LDL, which is the bad cholesterol,” Gilreath said.
Apples also contain plenty of phytonutrients, which occur naturally in plant foods and may prevent diseases and keep your body working properly.
Flavoniods in apples help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease and stroke, while also regulating blood pressure.
“Studies show there is a 20 percent reduction of lung cancer in women who eat an apple every day,” said Gilreath.
With more than 2,000 varieties of apples grown in the United States, there are plenty of options from which to choose.
“The two top types of apples that you can find pretty much year-round are your Red Delicious and Golden Delicious. The Red Delicious has a sweet, mellow taste. The Golden Delicious is similarly sweet, but it has a little bit of a tangier flavor to it. They’re both good, all-purpose apples, but probably best for snacks and salads. They’re not the best ones for cooking,” said Gilreath. “Fuji apples are a sweet, slightly tart apple. They’re best eaten fresh, but also good for pies and baking and sauce making. Gala apples are also great for snacks and salads and pies, sauces and baking. Granny Smith is a green apple that is firm and tart and, while you can eat it fresh, it is really good for baking because of its texture and its tartness.”
Apples are harvested from late August through October and store well until the middle of winter.
When selecting apples, look for good color and smell. Avoid apples with bruises or ones that have damage to their skins. Store apples unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
October is National Apple Month and, in recognition of this, the U.S. Apple Association offers the following recipes you may want to try this apple season.
Quinoa Salad with Apples
U.S. Apple Association
Dressing ingredients Juice of 1 large lemon 2 tsp. honey 1 medium shallot 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 3 Tbsp. olive oil Salad ingredients 3 cups very thinly sliced kale (about 1/3 of a standard bunch) 11/2 cups of quinoa 3 cups of water 1 tsp. plus 1/4 tsp. kosher salt 2 Tbsp. olive oil 2 large tender-sweet apples, such as Fuji or Gala, unpeeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 tsp. sugar 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts 4 ounces crumbled feta
In small bowl, whisk together lemon, honey, shallot and salt. Add olive oil in a thin stream, whisking as you go. Set aside. Put kale in serving bowl and set aside. Put quinoa, water and 1 teaspoon salt in medium saucepan, cover and set over high heat. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and add it to bowl with kale. Set large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, heat for a minute, then add apples and1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add sugar and continue cooking and stirring until apples begin to turn golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add apples to bowl with quinoa, then add pine nuts, feta and dressing and toss until evenly combined.
Apple, Ginger and Cherry Chutney
U.S. Apple Association
3 cups peeled, cored, apples, chopped coarsely 3/4 cup diced onions 1/2 cup apple butter 1/2 cup dried cherries 1/2 cup white wine vinegar 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1/4 cup real maple syrup 1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger 1 tsp. freshly minced garlic 1/2 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. pepper 2 or 3 shakes cayenne pepper, to taste Apple slices Brie cheese Cheddar cheese Assorted crackers
In 4-quart saucepan with lid, combine all chutney ingredients. Cover. Over medium high heat, bring mixture to boil; reduce heat to low. Continue cooking at low until mixture is thick and apples are tender and soft (35 to 40 minutes). Serve with apple slices, Brie or Cheddar cheese or serve on crackers. Refrigerate leftovers.
Bacon ‘n’ Apple
U.S. Apple Association
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef 2/3 cup coarsely shredded, unpeeled, sweet tart red apple, such as a Honeycrisp 1/4 cup chopped red onion 3 thick slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and very finely chopped (about 1/4 cup) 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 1/2 tsp. dried thyme 1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper 3 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese, cut into 12 pieces 12 cocktail buns or Parker House rolls, split* 12 very small lettuce leaves or fresh baby spinach Very thinly sliced, unpeeled, sweet tart red apple (optional)
Preheat oven broiler. For burgers, mix ground beef, shredded apple, onion, bacon, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt and pepper in large bowl until just combined. With damp hands, form mixture into 12 2 1/2-inch round patties. Broil patties on rack in broiling pan, 4 inches from heat for 8 to 12 minutes or until thermometer reads 160 degrees F., turning patties over halfway through broiling.
Place 1 cheese piece on the top of each patty. Continue broiling for 30 to 60 seconds or until cheese begins to melt.
To serve, spread aioli (recipe follows) on bottom of buns. Top with patties, and, if desired, apple slices and lettuce. Close sandwiches with bun tops.
Stir together 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 5 tsp. frozen apple juice concentrate until combined. Makes about 1/3 cup.