Apples are one of the most iconic fruits of the fall season. Fall marks back to school themed apple decor and the fun tradition of bobbing for apples. Apples serve as a symbol for healthy eating. Many families use apples in their everyday diet from a snack to an apple pie. In fact, most are familiar with the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. But is there any truth behind this old proverb? This happens to be one saying worth repeating.
- Apples under the microscope:
- Quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples has been studied for its possible protective benefits against prostate cancer.
- Researchers at Cornell University showed that nutrients found in the skin of apples inhibited the reproduction of colon cancer cells by 43%.
- The National Cancer Institute released a statement saying that the flavonoids, like the ones found in apples, may reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 50%.
- Other studies have shown that apples can also help reduce the risk of asthma and possibly type 2 diabetes.
- Apples contain pectin, which is a valuable source of soluble fiber (1.0 gram per medium-sized apple). Soluble fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels and possibly help control blood sugars. The average apple contains 3-5 grams of total fiber, which can help support digestive health.
- Choosing your perfect apple:
- Apples come in many varieties. They can be sweet, tart, crisp, soft, red, yellow, green; the combinations are endless! I personally love a sweet, crisp apple so I tend to stick with Gala, Fuji or the Honeycrisp varieties. Picking the perfect apple can depend on your usage of the apple. Different varieties are recommended if you’re simply snacking or using apples for cooking/baking purposes. Below is a list of apples, their profiles and recommended uses.
- Take advantage of your local apple farms:
- Apples can also take us on adventures. Visiting your local apple farm or apple festival is a great way to be active and enjoy fresh, local produce.
- Visit http://www.orangepippin.com/orchards/united-states/illinois for a complete list and description of apple orchards in Illinois.
- Hit the road this fall and visit one of the many apple festivals for a family friendly adventure. Here is a list of our local and nationwide festivals: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/festivals.cfm
Eating an apple a day can definitely be part of a healthy diet. The phytochemicals and antioxidants found in apples help our bodies defend itself from oxidative stress. However, processed apple products, such as juice, typically do not retain these nutritious properties. When choosing an applesauce, opt for the no-sugar added variety. You can naturally sweeten it with cinnamon, if needed. For a balanced snack, combine an apple with 1-2 Tbsp of peanut butter or a low-fat cheese stick. Apple chunks can be added to salads, cereal and make creative slaws and salsas! Apples are so versatile; everyone can enjoy the fruit of the season!