An Apple a Day
A Tasty Way to Stay Healthy
We’ve heard it all of our lives: an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
There’s a reason that saying is so popular: the health benefits of apples are numerous.
And while apples won’t really make visits to your MD a thing of the past, there are almost as many ways apples are good for you as there are varieties of them.
Apples can help you to:
- Snack healthy – A medium apple has approximately 95 calories and no fat or cholesterol – not bad for such a sweet, satisfying snack. A medium apple contains roughly a cup of fruit, which is a full serving, one of the 2-3 fruit servings a day you should eat.
- Get your fiber – A medium apple (with skin) has 4 grams of fiber. That’s 17% of your daily fiber requirement in one juicy fruit!
- Prevent stroke – Dutch research published in April in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association showed a decrease in stroke risk when people ate white-fleshed fruit, like apples or pears. Apples and pears are high in the antioxidant quercetin, which reduces inflammation linked to hardened arteries, a characteristic of heart disease. Apples and pears also contain fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol, another heart disease risk factor. The research study – which had more than 20,000 participants – found that people’s risk decreased 9% for every 25 grams of fruit they ate. That means that if you eat an apple a day – a medium apple is around 125 grams – you could decrease your stroke risk up to 45%!
- Improve heart health – Among women tracked in a study for nearly 20 years, those who were frequent apple eaters had a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
- Prevent metabolic syndrome – Another study found that people who ate apples in any form were 27% less likely to have symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, than those who didn’t eat apples.
- Identify heart disease and diabetes risk – Apple eaters also had lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is an inflammation blood marker that indicates an increased risk for diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
- Improve cholesterol – A USDA study found that eating apples every day lowered bad cholesterol and improved good cholesterol in women. In the study, women ate 1/3 of a cup of dried apples each day, leading to a 23% decrease in LDL cholesterol, the bad kind. Participants also saw a slight increase in their good HDL cholesterol, about 4%. They also saw a decrease in CRP. The effects would be the same with an equivalent amount of fresh apples, about 1 1/4 cups.
- Lose weight – Researchers also found that the extra 240 apple calories women consumed did not lead to weight gain. It had the opposite effect – the women lost an average of 3.3 pounds during the 6-month study.
- Maintain a healthy mouth – Apples are like natural toothbrushes, helping clean your teeth. You might even recommend that your kids eat dessert first and their apple last to help prevent tooth decay.
Apples can even make it easier for you to be more active. The antioxidant quercetin that apples contain makes oxygen more available to your lungs, aiding exercise endurance, according to EatingWell Magazine.
Besides being so good for you, apples are delicious! Fresh-picked or made into sauce or cider, in a sweet dessert or a savory side dish, apples are one of the most versatile ingredients around.
When shopping for apples, organic is best if you can get them, because apples regularly top the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of produce that carries the most pesticides.
Whatever kind of apples you choose, be sure to wash them well before eating.
Your entire meal can include apples – try this appetizer, side dish, and healthy dessert.
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