apple, apple recipes

Apples are grown and eaten throughout the world and have been around forever. We love apples so much it’s in everything from fragrance, flavor, the shape of a perfume bottle and even the name of our electronics. There is even the infamous slogan – ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ which is more about eating healthy than the actual apple itself, but let’s not lose focus here.

Apples are so common place we may actually overlook its benefits and take them for granted. When you are standing with the fridge door looking longingly for something ‘nice’ to eat you will be forgiven for not noticing the pretty pile of apples on the center table and the row on the fridge shelf. But, after all these years in our history it remains an easy and crunchy dose of nutrition.

Apples are high in fiber (skin on for maximum fiber), vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and now that we know more about the microbiome there is that extra benefit of knowing that it is loaded with prebiotics which are massively beneficial to our gut health and therefore our overall health.

Let’s look at a few benefits these gems provide:

Antioxidant for anti-ageing… oh, and disease fighting

The beauty industry have gone out of their way to let us know about the anti-ageing properties of antioxidants and they aren’t wrong, BUT as I will repeatedly say in my blogs, if you want to optimize the absorption and benefits then diet is the best option. Apples don’t just come with antioxidants; they have many cofactors that bring their own disease fighting benefits to the table.

Apple vs Vitamin C Supplement

Antioxidant supplementation is a multibillion dollar industry and yet the humble apple (and many other wholefoods), go unnoticed (like the Cinderella of whole foods).

A review was done on numerous studies related to apples, in this review they compared the antioxidant activity between a 1500mg Vitamin C supplement to one apple (skin on), and, well let’s just read what they wrote:

‘The total antioxidant activity of apples with the peel was approximately 83 μmol vitamin C equivalents, which means that the antioxidant activity of 100 g apples (about one serving of apple) is equivalent to about 1500 mg of vitamin C’

That same review goes on to list the benefits in relation to cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and pulmonary function, diabetes and the ever popular weight loss topic.

Take a deep breath

Asthma is all too real for many of us and needs to be taken seriously. So why not add food to your diet that can help. Apples contain a component called ‘quercetin’ that has been attributed to help lower the risk of asthma. Now I am not saying it will cure asthma, but if you are looking to create a lifestyle that deals with your health issues from all angles then including apples in your diet is a good place to start. Again the review mentions this specifically:

‘Flavonoid intake in general was associated with a lower risk of asthma, and the association was attributed mainly to quercetin, hesperitin, and naringenin’.

Keeping ’It’ Regular

Because of all that fiber and prebiotic goodness apples help keep you regular and help avoid that nasty constipation that seems so common nowadays. (Now you know what ‘it’ refers).

Constipation isn’t just an uncomfortable experience, if it’s happening a little too often; you definitely want to get it checked out. It could be a symptom of an underlying health problem or actually cause nasty things like hemorrhoids, hiatal hernias, and varicose veins.

The Wrong Kind of Runs

You may think avoiding apples would be better if you have the ‘runs’, but that would be a mistake. They contain a binding ingredient called pectin. Not only is this the reason we use apple sauce as an egg substitute in baking, but that very same effect works in your intestine and helps keep things balanced. Applesauce made with the skin is a great home remedy that has been used over the ages. Homemade applesauce is of course best and the only sure fire way to ensure it hasn’t been loaded with sugar and additives.

Hopefully by now I have convinced you to give apples another go and not let them go wrinkly and brown on the kitchen counter. If this is the case then I have a few extra pointers to help you.

So your choice is that you can have a tasteless supplement or a delicious crispy disease fighting apple that will satisfy a craving or two and keep hunger pangs at bay – you decide.

Buying and Storing Apples

  • Buy organic where possible
  • Check your apples before you buy them and try get them as unbruised and firm as possible. They should have a bright color, no wrinkling and smell good.
  • As soon as you get home, be sure to give them a good rinse and dry them off well.
  • Store loose and on their own. Apples give off ethylene gas which accelerates the ripening of produce.
  • Fresh apples can be kept in the fridge for a few months (may not look as pretty, but they are still okay).
  • Use browned, older or bruised apples for applesauce or cooking – you won’t notice the blemishes and still get all the flavor and goodness.

Taking the boring out of apples

  • Apples served with a side of almond butter to dip in is a great snack and rich in boron;
  • Dice your apple and add to your oatmeal for extra flavor;
  • Sprinkle your apple with a bit of cinnamon and/nutmeg to spice it up;
  • Skip the cucumber and add some apple slices to your next sandwich (you will be surprised).

LET’S ADDRESS THE WAX ON APPLES

There have been videos going around showing warm water being poured over apples and a shockingly large amount of wax coming off the apples. This of course is very off putting and may make you rethink your apple consumption. But here are a few things you should know:

Yes – some food chains do coat their apples with a wax mix. They do this to add shine and for longevity. The type of wax and how much they use depends on the supplier. There are different blends that include natural and synthetic blends. We are also assured that these are safe and do not harm us, I will leave the decisions as to whether it is bad or not to you. Organic farmers seem to get by just fine without it?

At this point you may be thinking ‘ where did they get the idea to coat apples with wax’? Brace yourselves – nature. Yup, in nature all species have built in protection mechanisms and apples are one of the fruits that actually produce their own protective wax-like coating. The coating is called epicuticular (cuticle) wax. Perfectly safe and nothing a good rinse in vinegar water wont sort out.

Apples really are a healthy ‘to-go go-to’ (that was fun to type) food, no extra packaging needed.

So before you give your farmer or organic fruit supplier the beady eye ask them first if they add wax or if it’s the natural version. In fact, just check before you assume as not all fresh produce suppliers add wax.

Is it a thumbs up or thumbs down for apples?

All those interesting health benefits of apples aside, it’s a really versatile little fruit. In The 5 Things You Can Do With Apples recipe booklet we get to incorporate apples into everyday meals. So you may find eating a whole apple a little boring, then my challenge to you is incorporate it in other ways.

Is there a downside?

If I was backed into a corner and told – Find one downside of apples? I would have to mention the seed. It contains trace amounts of cyanogenic glycosides. These glycosides release tiny amounts of cyanide when coming into contact with human digestive enzymes. Now before you panic! Please note that the author of this here article has eaten apple seeds since she was a child. Even with my grandmother telling me an apple tree would grow out of my stomach and through my ears. You would also need to eat and very finely chew a lot. I mean A LOT of seeds to do some damage. So maybe, just don’t eat the seeds.

All in all, apples are a great addition to a nutritious diet – so thumbs up from me… how about you?

When we talk about health we tend to think diet, exercise and your friends latest proclamation of some amazing new supplement that is life changing. We are all bombarded with the latest and greatest all the time and it always seems to come down to being told that you must be doing things very differently from the way you are currently doing things. While there isn’t anything overtly wrong with that, we often overlook the small stuff. The simple things that can have an enormous and impactful long term benefit on our health. They almost seem trivial and easily forgotten while we sweat our way through grueling workouts and count our calories and carb intake.

Perhaps if we brought a little math to these little things it might help illustrate the efficacy of simple acts. Think of each act as the numeral 1. Doing one of these simple acts once doesn’t seem like much, but do it every day for a year and suddenly it becomes 365 acts of nourishment and kindness to you and your health journey.

So whether you choose to only do one or many of these suggestions, and you choose to give it a try consistently, take a moment to consider the cumulative effect on your health. The best part of all of these boosters are that they are free, don’t need any special equipment and nobody needs to know. It’s like going into stealth health optimization mode.

‘Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification” Martin H Fischer


HERE ARE 10 SIMPLE HEALTH BOOSTERS TO TRY:

1) Breathe before and during a meal

Effective and optimal digestion takes place when we activate our Parasympathetic Nervous System or Rest and Digest state. A quick and effective way to do this is through a breathing technique known as diaphragmatic breathing. By activating our vegus nerve (aka: *pneumogastric nerve) we are helping our body get into a state of relaxation which means our blood flow, heart, lungs and digestive organs can work on our food in the best possible way. When we are stressed we activate our Sympathetic Nervous System which moves resources away from our digestive system to our extremities and places our brains on high alert. We effectively go into an emergency state and are ready for action. Digesting a meal is not essential and more of a hindrance, as the objective is to get food out of the system as quickly as possible and shortcut the nutritional absorption.
*(pneumo = lungs & gastric = stomach)

2) Chew your food

Following on from breathing, chewing is a key factor that influences digestion. As a general rule of thumb we should chew each bite for around 30 seconds before swallowing. For those of you who have reached out to that biscuit next to your tea and are now chewing for 30 seconds – you are probably thinking ‘that’s insane!’. If you are eating highly processed foods there will most likely not be much left in your mouth after 30 seconds. Highly processed foods very seldom have fiber and we need fiber! Also, there are enzymes that help digest and break down food (especially carbs) in our saliva, these then react with other enzymes in our stomach which further help digestion. By skipping or skimping on the chewing part we put undue strain on our stomachs which can lead to indigestion, gas, bloating and even leaky gut syndrome.

3) Move more

I feel like this point has been flogged to death already and you may have rolled your eyes when you saw this. Unfortunately it is a goody and as prolific as this tip may be, it cannot be overlooked or ignored. If all you can do is stand up and stretch at your desk every 30 min then do that, but try as much as you can to MOVE MORE!

4) Eat at least one green vegetable every day

Green vegetables are like that small gun Will Smith gets in MIB. It seems ineffective and boring, but boy does it pack a punch. Dark leafy greens in particular help purify our blood, improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, improve liver, gall bladder and kidney function and so much more. (Dynamite truly does come in small packages when it comes to green veggies)

5) Get a plant

There is so much to say about this, but let’s keep it simple. Not only does it help freshen the air around you, but if you manage to keep it alive and flourishing you will (and I speak from personal experience) feel like a champion (cue Chariots of Fire background music). It looks good and connects you with nature. If you are stuck in an office all day, that little glimpse of beautiful nature you are caring for can be the highlight of your day.

6) Make your bed

I am not talking Marie Kondo tidy here, and if you are a messy person by nature then start with just making your bed every day. Moms across the planet are nodding their heads at this. There is even a navy big gun who says it’s one of the secrets to success. (A gazillion moms and the navy seals can’t all be wrong). It’s not just about making the bed, the act of tidying and organizing follows through to your thoughts and has a similar effect on your brain waves. (If you are interested what the navy guy had to say – he wrote a book: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World by William McRaven. I haven’t read it yet, but I make my bed everyday and personally think there is merit to the title alone).

7) Make a decision

I am sure you make decisions all day long, but we are talking about you and your health. So for today, make a decision about you and stick with it. Today you can decide:
– I am beautiful
– I am where I am meant to be
– I am worthy
– I have a great smile
– I am strong
Make it about you, make it positive and believe it.
This may take some practice as we are often not as direct about what we think or believe about ourselves, unless it’s negative. We feel guilty or think it makes us conceited, which is not the goal here. As humans we react on a molecular level to positive and negative feedback and our internal feedback is even more acute. You are literally destroying cells in your body every time you engage those negative thoughts.
(If you want to understand this on a deeper level, I highly recommend you read Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton).

8) Do a Swop Out

Identify one food item or activity that may be contributing to your health issues and swop it out for something that helps optimize your health. Let’s say you eat a choc chip muffin with your morning coffee, every day from the local garage, on your way to work (and breathe – that’s a very long sentence). What can you swop that out with that is a healthier option? The idea is not to deny you your morning snack, just to optimize the opportunity. If you aren’t ready to give up on baked yumminess then consider making your own over the weekend and use a more fibrous flour, dark chocolate and less sugar or healthier sugar and less salt. Same thing, just you did the quality control and know that you put the best ingredients in – (your blood pressure and gut will thank you!).

9) Cook extra

Cooking a little extra for dinner and then taking it for lunch the next day is another powerful secret weapon. Being that prepared with so little extra effort needs to have an award or some kind of formal recognition. It saves you time in the morning, avoids you having to starve yourself because you didn’t have time to organize lunch and avoids that oh so alluring temptation of buying junk food, so there is the money being saved as well.

10) Take the scenic route

Whenever and where ever the opportunity presents itself – take it. If you don’t have to rush home and there is a route that is less congested, more calming and beautiful choose that one. If you are walking to your appointment from the parking lot and there is a route through the garden – take that one.

These actions can seem so arbitrary that we would hardly mention them. They aren’t the kinds of things we sit down at a coffee date with our friends and gush about how we drove the ‘long way’ home from work on Thursday and saw the most amazing garden with flowers in full bloom. You are more likely to hear a confused ‘okay, that’s a bit weird’ than an “OMG! I also did that and it was awesome”, but, it does not take away from the fact that as trivial as they may seem, we don’t do it, and we most certainly don’t appreciate the impact they have on our health. These small things add up and build toward a happier and healthier you.

I challenge you to try just one for a while. No you wont suddenly loose 10kg, you wont suddenly be healed of anything, but maybe, just maybe you may have a moment of happiness, a moment of less gas or a moment of calm and that my friends is priceless and everlasting.

Just like ‘creeping obesity’ these stealth health tips have a more positive connotation ‘creeping healthiness’. Try them out and enjoy the rewards.