An Apple a Day...
Updated: Aug 24, 2022
That sounds cliché, but honestly, it's not a bad idea. Apples have a considerable amount of health benefits, and they score big points for convenience (which is huge in my book). They can be stored at room temperature, they don't have a wrapper (great for desk or car-munching) and can be paired with all kinds of things for a great balanced snack, or as an addition to any meal.
One medium (3 inch diameter) apple has about 4.4g of fiber, so they are a great way to reach the daily recommended amount of 21-25g for women and 30-38g for men. Apples have both soluble (30%) and insoluble (70%) fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, whereas insoluble fiber does not, so they both benefit us differently. Soluble fiber aids in digestion, and can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Most of the fiber in the apple's flesh is soluble. Pectin, one type of soluble fiber found in apples, promotes gut health by acting as a prebiotic and feeding good bacteria.
Insoluble fiber can promote bowel health and regularity by drawing water into your stool and making it easier to pass. Most of the insoluble fiber in an apple is in the skin, so eat that too! I recommend choosing organic apples and washing the skin before eating.
The apple skin is also a great source of polyphenols, a group of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your cells from free radicals, which are linked to chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. Other antioxidants in apples include quercetin (anti-inflammatory) and phloridzin (reduces sugar uptake in the intestines so may reduce the risk of diabetes). Vitamin C is another type of antioxidant which serves many functions. It aids in wound healing, immune function, iron absorption, etc. One medium apple provides 10% of the daily value (DV) of Vitamin C.
Eat the Fruit, Skip the Juice
I cannot overstate the health benefits of eating apples. When you start taking pieces out of the whole though, things change. Sure, apple juice has vitamin C. It also has a high concentration of sugar (even if there is no added sugar). Think of how many apples you need to juice to get a glass of apple juice. That's maybe 3 apples' worth of sugar in one glass. Not worth it. You're also missing out on all of the fiber.
Apple sauce is better, if there's no added sugar. One pouch of apple sauce has 3g of fiber. You're missing out on the insoluble fiber though, unless you make your own and keep the skin (that's an idea).
Ways to Eat Apples
Straight up! Who doesn't love a nice crisp apple to much on? Pro tip: Pair with protein or healthy fat for a more balanced snack that keeps you satisfied. My go-to's are 1/4 cup nuts, 1 Tbsp peanut or almond butter, string cheese, or 3-5 cubes of cheddar cheese.
Slice in round cross-sections to make "donuts" and add spread and topping of choice. We use peanut or almond butter, goat cheese (for a savory twist), and sometimes Nutella (yum!). Throw a few sprinkles on there and it's a real crowd pleaser.
Chopped and sautéed with some cinnamon. You can add to greek yogurt, or on top of a little vanilla ice cream for a treat.
Diced and added in oatmeal, smoothies, and even muffins. The options are endless, so be creative, and have fun!
And of course…pies. And crumbles, obviously. Not the healthiest or most convenient way to eat apples, but undeniably the tastiest. Is it fall, yet?
Cinnamon Sugar Apples
-1 apple (I prefer Granny Smith, but any will do. Granny Smith apples have a tartness and sturdier flesh that stands up better to heat when baking or sautéing).
-1/2 Tbsp butter
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp of sugar or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup
Dice apple. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add apples to pan and stir to coat. Add cinnamon and sweetener of choice (I don't use much, the sugar from the apple lends its own sweetness). Sauté until soft, then serve. It's delicious over vanilla ice cream, on pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal, or just on its own. Enjoy!