An apple a day… | Health beat
When the days get shorter, summer fruits fade and leaves fall from trees, autumn offers a sweet balance.
Crunchy, juicy apples provide great nutrition, wrapped in an A-peel pack, says Kristi Veltkamp, MS, RD, a nutritionist from Spectrum Health.
She encourages people to enjoy the season by buying or picking apples at a local market or orchard.
“They’re so fresh right now,” she said. “If you get fresh and local fruit, it hasn’t traveled across the country or the whole world. They are more nutritious, cheaper and have a better taste. “
Most of the healthy goodness of apples is in the peel.
“That’s where the whole fiber lies,” says Veltkamp. “And most of the vitamin C and nutrients are there.”
A large apple has 5 grams of fiber. That’s a good chunk of the recommended 25 grams per day for women and 38 for men.
Fiber helps keep the colon healthy and promotes the intestinal flora, which strengthens the immune system.
It supports heart health. It binds to cholesterol to prevent it from being absorbed.
And when gut bacteria ferment fiber in the large intestine, they produce short-chain fatty acids, which can help with colon health, prevent colon cancer and have a positive effect on cholesterol levels.
The fiber in apples can help with weight management, Veltkamp said. It slows down the emptying of the stomach, which makes you feel full longer.
Apples also contain a good dose of antioxidants, vitamin C, and phytonutrients that help reduce inflammation. Research shows that this can help with brain health, cancer prevention, and the treatment of lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Apples get extra points for convenience, added Veltkamp. They keep well in the refrigerator and are easy to transport, making them easy to pack for lunch or a snack.
For those looking for ways to include more apples in their diet, she suggests three options:
- Swap apple slices for crackers on a cheese and cracker tray. A tart apple crunch complements cheese well.
- When making baked apples, fill the hollowed-out apple core with peanut butter or almond butter. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
- Apple nachos: Spread apple slices – instead of tortilla chips – on a plate and drizzle with melted peanut butter. You can also sprinkle some dark chocolate chips and nuts on top and heat the dish in the oven or microwave until the chocolate melts.
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