Wellness: Nutrition

The Nutritious Apple

A is for apple: an appealing fruit that's attractive, appetizing, and available year round.

We use apples to evoke love and patriotism. "You're the apple of my eye," we say, or "as American as apple pie". Experts say another apple adage is true, too: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

The nutrients and fiber in apples have whole-body health benefits, from better digestion to lower cholesterol. Apples contain a variety of heart disease and cancer-fighting substances called phytochemicals. There's also evidence that people who eat apples may have a lower incidence of asthma. The meat of the apple contains soluble fiber and the skin, with its insoluble fiber, has added benefits that aid digestion.

With more Americans than ever overweight, obesity is lowest among those who regularly eat fruits and vegetables. Apples are a convenient, wash-and-go fruit to eat. They are also low in calories, nutritious, filling, and taste great. There's an apple variety for almost every taste.

Here are some tips to entice kids and grownups alike to eat more apples. Chop them up to add a tart, crunchy treat to salads. Put fresh or dehydrated apples in cereals. Add apples to muffins, stuffing, and pancakes. Put peanut butter on apples for a healthy and satisfying after-school snack. Or bake an apple with brown sugar and raisins in the center, with a bit of margarine to add richness.

Apple bytes

  • The apple is the second most popular fruit, behind the banana. Portability is a factor. It's easy to tuck an apple into a lunch bag or pocket.

  • You don't need gimmicks and gadgets. Crank-handle apple peelers are cute, but you can easily peel an apple with a paring knife or vegetable peeler.

  • A favorite apple is the Red Delicious. Eat it whole or cut it up for salads. Tart apples like the Granny Smith bake well. The McIntosh makes great applesauce.

  • Lemon juice or commercially made apple juice with citric acid added will keep cut apples from turning brown. You don't need to use it if you're cooking apples.

  • Keep apples crisp in the refrigerator. Apples may look pretty in a bowl, but they'll lose moisture and vitamins.

  • Apples are grown commercially in 36 states. Because they need cool evenings, they grow better in the North. The state of Washington leads U.S. production.

  • Apples come in 7,500 varieties, with new ones marketed each year. Gala apples, brought here from New Zealand in the 1970s, and Fuji apples, developed in Japan in the 1930s, are gaining in popularity.

  • Substitute applesauce for some of the fat when you bake breads and muffins. A good rule of thumb: two-thirds oil, one-third fruit puree.

  • A small/medium apple—about 2-3/4 inches in diameter—contains about 80 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrate, and 4 grams of fiber, with no fat or protein. Generally, three medium apples weigh a pound.

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