Always a Good Choice – How to Pick the Best Apples
Few choices in the produce aisle offer the rainbow of options that the versatile apple presents. Their variety – as well as nutritional punch – puts them at the top of the list for good-food choices.
“There’s a ton of research that shows that fruits, vegetables and grains foods contain thousands of different phytonutrients (natural plant substances), many of which are thought to be important for health and prevention of certain diseases, with apples containing some of these important nutrients,” said Avera Clinical Dietitian Janine Albers. She said a good example of this is research from nutrition journals that links consumption of apples with reduced risks of some cancers, heart disease, asthma and diabetes.
“Apples also provide two kinds of fiber,” she said. “One type of fiber is particularly good for the digestive tract and the other for heart health.”
Great Flavor and Fiber
In addition to the wonderfully sweet flavor of apples, the two types of fiber they deliver also make a big dent in our daily need.
“The skin of apples aid in digestion as it helps move food through your gut,” she said. “They also provide about 4-5 grams of daily fiber, with most people needing more fiber in their daily meals and snacks.”
Like most other natural foods, apples in their whole form – not juice or applesauce – is the way to go to get the most from this food, Albers said. You’ll lose about half of the fulfilling fiber if you just eat the sauce. Processing removes fiber and too often, there’s added sugar and that’s never a good idea.
Try this recipe for a yummy combination of apples and carrot.
The fiber in the apple, along with natural phytonutrients, help to slow down digestion of carbohydrates, so the natural sugar gradually gets into the blood stream. Albers said this can help prevent blood-sugar spikes and help you feel satisfied for a longer period after eating. So again: apples rule, offering so much.
Albers said that eating whole apples is best because many of those disease-preventing phytonutrients mainly are found in their skins. She recommends trying a number of varieties and finding those with the best taste and texture.
“We can find ones that we like best through experimentation,” she said. “Darker red apples often hold the highest levels of phytonutrients, but all apples are good for you.”
This warm treat is a perfect fall recipe!
Visiting the Varieties
Marion Road HyVee Registered Dietitian Anna Heronimus, RD, LN said that while we all know the old expression about daily apples and doctors, there’s more to this fruit than just a saying.
“Apples are a great source of immune-boosting vitamin C,” she said. “Honey Crisp apples are excellent for eating in salads, sauces and pies. They also are locally grown – they are a Minnesota native species. Ultra-Crisp apples often appeal to teens, and they are a great way to encourage healthy snacking.”
Heronimus also recommended Sweet Tango apples as being sweet, crunch and jazzy, and said they are great fresh or in salads.
“They are a cross between Honey Crisp and Zestar apples,” said Heronimus. “Golden Delicious apples have a mild sweet flavor. They are great for baking and can help reduce the sugar in your recipes by using these already sweet apples. I also recommend Cortland apples because of their tender, snow-white flesh. They are sweet with a hint a tartness, great in most any application but also excellent for freezing or adding to kabobs because they don't brown quickly.”
Enjoy this treat with children! It's easy.
Albers added that many of the phytonutrients in apples offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory prevention benefits, no matter which ones you buy or how you enjoy them.
“Eat them raw or include them in salads, to get the most of out of them,” she said. “There are ongoing studies on how apples may help reduce the risk of asthma due to the anti-inflammatory properties, and this is just one of many potential benefits.”
Ready to make supper? Try this gluten-free take on apples and pork chops.