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?