Hopefully, fall weather greets you with a warm welcome. In no time, you’ll be able to plan family outings to the apple orchard and pick from the season’s harvest. Even if you don’t live near any apple orchards, the fall fruit will be busheling over in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. As you’re shopping, you’ll see a variety of colors and sizes, leaving you with even more questions about the almighty apple. Which kind is best? Do I need to eat the skin to get the full apple nutrition benefits? Will an apple a day really keep the doctor away?
Take a Slice of Apple Nutrition
Apples are a fall staple, because they are most flavorful during their peak season of September to November. Even with their “red delicious” taste and appeal, apples also carry healthful components that can truly boost the nutrition of your meal.
An apple (with the skin) provides sufficient amounts of vitamin C, which is important for keeping your immune system up to par. Cells in the immune system work synergistically to maintain adequate levels of vitamin C in order to protect themselves from free radicals. In other words, vitamin C works as a mega-fighting antioxidant that protects you from harmful “invaders.”
Vitamin C has many other responsibilities, ranging from assistance with wound healing to the formation of the protein collagen. Collagen is important for healthy skin, teeth and bones.
Ever heard of vitamin C enhancing the absorption of iron? Well, it does. Vitamin C protects iron from oxidation, so it is absorbed more readily in the body. How cool is that? To get the most out of your fall apples, try eating them in conjunction with some iron-rich foods. So maybe a daily bite will keep the doctor at bay.
Apples also contain soluble and insoluble fiber, which are beneficial for gut health. Just one large apple contributes about 30% of your daily fiber intake. You can always count on soluble fiber to dissolve in water, but insoluble fiber will not.
Being that they are both unique to the body, they perform different duties. Insoluble fiber is often referred to as “nature’s broom,” as it sweeps your intestines of waste and promotes regularity through your gut. Consuming more foods with insoluble fiber may reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
Soluble fiber is more of a gummy texture that assists with decreasing cholesterol absorption and controlling blood sugar. It’s good to know that soluble fiber may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and some types of cancer. By eating an apple a day, you’re getting a double dose of fiber.
Compare Types of Apples to Apples
From Granny Smith and Golden Delicious to McIntosh and Macoun, the apple varieties are endless. Is there really a difference in the nutritional value of different types of apples? Not really. If you wanted to get down to the core of it all, you could find a few differences. Mostly, however, you will find nothing but similarities.
For example, all apples are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. They also contain potassium, which is a helpful mineral in maintaining good control over blood pressure by reducing the effects of sodium. Whether it’s a Fuji or a Gala, choosing any apple is a nutritious selection.
Adding apples to your diet is always a good choice, but be mindful of choosing the right amount. The recommended daily intake of fruit is only two cups. Different forms of apples count toward that amount, as well. A cup of apple juice, for instance, counts as fruit if you choose 100% fruit juice. Applesauce is also a great option, but try to stick with applesauce without any added sugar. Remember: Naturally occurring sugar from fruit always one-ups added sugar.
Discover the Good in Apple Skin
Many people peel off the apple skin. However, the skin really “seals the deal” when it comes to nutrition. The apple skin is literally the holder of certain nutrition components that are simply not found in other parts of the apple. For example, the skin of red apples contains anthocyanins, which are natural food pigments that help fight free radical damage. Anthocyanins are what give certain fruits and vegetables their bright hues, whether it be orange bell peppers, blueberries or deep purple eggplant. Consuming more richly colored produce may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Not only is eating the apple skin important for anthocyanin consumption, but it holds much of the insoluble fiber that comes from the fall fruit.
Use Apples in Unique Ways
Now that you know more about apple health benefits, you’re probably excited to incorporate them into your fall menu. It’s the perfect time of year to cook with apples and bring life to those “fallen soldiers.” Here are a few ideas for incorporating apples into your dinner:
- Slow-cooker pork tenderloin with apples and rosemary
- Stuffed chicken with apples
- Chicken apple sauté
- Baked turkey cranberry sandwich with apple slices
Remember, you can always incorporate apples into meals you regularly enjoy.
- Add diced apples to your salad
- Layer apple slices on your sandwich
- Grate apples and stir into your oatmeal or oatmeal cookies
- Replace oil with applesauce in baked goods
- Use 100% apple juice for a mock-tail recipe