“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” How many times have you heard that in your life? This saying comes from an old English adage, “To eat an apple before going to bed, will make the doctor beg his bread.” A weird fact, but nonetheless, one of the many that I found on the health benefits of eating an apple. In fact, did you know that apples are the world’s most popular fruit? They originated in the Middle East about 4000 years ago and are a member of the rose family. The United States grows 2,500 different varieties of apples, and come in such colors as yellow, green and red.
A medium size apple has only about 80 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 10 mg of calcium, 10 mg of phosphorus, 0.25 mg of iron, 159 mg of potassium, 8 mg of Vitamin C, 73 IU Vitamin A and 4 mcg of folic acid. However, don’t peel your apple. Two-thirds of the fiber and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel. Apples are also low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. In fact, a recent study done at Florida State University showed that women who ate apples every day had 14% lower total cholesterol, a 23% decrease in LDL cholesterol and a 3% rise in HDL cholesterol and their C-reactive protein levels (which is a good measure of inflammation) went down 32% after 1 year.
Apples are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fiber such as pectin prevents the cholesterol buildup in the blood vessels and thus, reduces the risks of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Insoluble fibers in the apple improve the digestive health. Apples are a potent source of antioxidants, which are effective in preventing many health problems. Antioxidants help to reduce damage to cells, which can trigger some diseases. In fact it has been shown that an apple is effective in preventing various types of cancers such as liver cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer.
Apples also contain many important phytonutrients such as epicatechin, quercetin and procyanidin in addition to the vitamins and minerals I mentioned above. In fact the phytonutrients found in apples protect your body from many diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease by having an anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effect in the body. A flavanoid called phloridzin found in apple helps protect from osteoporosis and also increases bone density. Pectin in the apple lowers the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and is also helpful in managing diabetes.
Knowing these facts about apples, one can believe that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Rich in nutrients, an apple is, no doubt, a valuable choice for improving overall health.
We love apples, whether I am buying granny smith, pink lady, golden delicious or gala, they are sweet and crunchy, as long as you buy them when they are in season, and delicious. This is especially the time of year when I like to think about apples, as the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah is fast approaching. It is a tradition in the Jewish culture to dip apples in honey for a sweet New Year.
My recipe for you this week is to go out and buy a variety of apples. When you are hungry, take one out, wash it, cut it up and dip it in some honey. If you don’t like honey, try some peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower butter. Even better, put it on a bagel or rice cake with peanut butter. This is one of my favorite mid-morning snacks to get me through until lunch.
An Apple Snack
1 medium apple, washed and sliced
1 T Creamy organic peanut butter
1 Mother’s brand caramel rice cake
2 tsp honey
Spread peanut butter on rice cake.
Top with apples. Sprinkle with honey. Enjoy!