4 Reasons to Enjoy Apple Season!

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An apple a day does a lot more than you think

apples in a basket

By Oxfordian Kissuth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There’s nothing like the crisp, refreshing feeling of biting into a fresh apple. The sweetness (or tartness, depending on which kind you like) and crunch are a quintessential part of fall, especially here in upstate NY. And it’s just about this time of year that baskets and boxes of the first ripe apples start to show up at farmers markets and natural grocery stores.

When you see fresh apples all piled up in a shiny array of green, red and yellow, it’s only natural to start dreaming of apple crisp, apple cake, apple muffins and, of course, apple pie. What you probably don’t think of at first is the positive effect that this abundant autumn fruit has on your health. Every time you reach for your favorite variety of apple, you’re doing your body a big favor.

High Fiber, Happy Colon

According to the Encyclopedia of Healing Foods,  apples contain high levels of pectin and other fibers, all of which aid digestion by improving motility. Pectin is particularly helpful in that it’s a gel-forming fiber, which not only supports digestive health but also binds with cholesterol and shuttles it out of the body. This prevents the cholesterol from winding up in your blood stream and forming the beginnings of atherosclerotic plaques. It also keeps excess cholesterol out of the bile, thereby improving bile flow and lowering your risk of developing gallstones.

“Phabulous” Phytonutrients

The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods notes that raw, unpeeled apples possess an array of powerful phytonutrients, including ellagic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid. These are found mainly in the skin along with high levels of flavanoids, most notably quercetin, a potent anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. Removing the peel robs you of the benefits of these powerful compounds, so leave apple skins on whenever possible.

One thing to note: apples come in at the top of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” list, meaning that the skins of non-organic varieties may harbor high levels of pesticide residue. Go organic whenever you can, and when you can’t, use a high-quality veggie wash to thoroughly clean apples before consuming.

apple orchard by apples and pears australia ltd

By Apple and Pears Australia Ltd [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Smack Down Disease

Phytonutrients make apples powerful disease fighters. Despite its unassuming appearance, this humble fruit is able to help your body combat some of the most prevalent diseases in Western society. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods cites an analysis in which researchers looked at 85 previous studies and found an association between apple consumption and lower instances of:

  • Asthma
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Many types of cancer

These results remained significant even when compared with other types of fruits and vegetables in subjects’ diets. World’s Healthiest Foods notes that one apple contains about 11 percent of the RDA recommendation for vitamin C intake, which could also help explain the fruit’s ability to beat diseases. Vitamin C gives the immune system a boost, and the body can recycle this nutrient more easily when it comes packaged with flavanoids.

As noted above, eating apples may also lower your risk of heart disease. It’s not just the fiber that’s responsible for this power. Polyphenols, another type of phytonutrient, protect against the oxidizing of fats. Known as lipid peroxidation, this process is what causes cholesterol to bind to arterial walls and begin the cascade of immune reactions that results in the formation of arterial plaques.

Everything Tastes Better In Season!

I make this point a lot, but it can’t be said enough: seasonal food is just plain better. There’s a world of difference between the apple you get from your favorite farmers market vendor–or better yet, pick right off the tree–and the one you pick up at the grocery store in the middle of winter. One is crisp, succulent, juicy and filled with all the best that the season has to offer. The other is rock hard, waxy and tasteless.

Why is this? Part of it is the fact that grocery store produce is picked before it ripens, stuffed in trucks and hauled around the country so that, by the time it hits the shelves, it’s traveled as many as 1,500 miles. Seasonal produce, on the other hand, is most often picked when it’s just right for eating and doesn’t have far to go from the farm to your mouth. Seasonal foods have been shown to possess a higher nutrient content than those harvested out of season, likely due in part to the fact that vitamins and minerals are lost during chilling and transportation. Ripeness also plays a role in how much nutrition you get from a food, so be sure to look for apples with firm flesh and vibrant color.
apple muffin with mix ins

Make an Apple (or two) Part of Your Day

To get your daily dose of apples, eat them raw (with the skin on), toss them in your favorite baked goods or make apple peanut butter “sandwiches.” Enjoy them now and all season long for the best flavor and the most health benefits!

Some other delicious ways to eat your apples:

For more information on this amazing fruit, check out NutritionFacts.org and World’s Healthiest Foods!

Want to discover another way to enjoy raw apples? Check out my “Raw Apple Pie, Simplified” class at Honest Weight Food Co-op on September 30th! Registration is free, but please sign up here to let me know you’re coming. Hope to see you there!
The class is now sold out! Can’t wait to see you there.

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About The Author

Sam has been a vegan since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of vegan food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a member of Toastmasters International and currently serves as part of the Capital View Toastmasters club. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read, play silly card games and knit socks.

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2 comments for “4 Reasons to Enjoy Apple Season!

  1. wbrannen@usapple.org'
    09/14/2015 at 3:07 PM

    Sam,

    LOVE, LOVE this story! App-solutely fabulous. We are always so happy to see wellness advice that encourages people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly our fall favorite (go, apples!).

    I do want to shed a little light on that pesky list that Environmental Working Group publishes –the “Dirty Dozen” –that unfortunately keeps popping up everywhere without any context. Please let me offer a quick word of caution to your readers about relying on advice from activist groups like EWG and any source, for that matter, that irresponsibly use “click-bait” lists (and in EWG’s case, faulty science) that can scare people away from healthy choices.

    What EWG will tell you in its report each year is that pesticides are found on produce. But the mere presence of pesticide residue means nothing. It is the LEVEL of those residues—whether on conventional OR organic produce (and yes, organics do have pesticide residues)—that drive the safety equation.

    What the Dirty Dozen report WON’T tell you is that the residues on apples, for instance, are right at 98% BELOW the safety standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (not exactly a cozy friend of the pesticide industry). If you’d like to see how those safety standards influence the fruits and vegetables we eat, here’s a great tool to calculate your exposure: http://www.safefruitsandveggies.com/.

    You’ll see that in order to bump up against the EPA’s pesticide residue safety standards, a man would have to consume 571 apples PER DAY EVERY DAY, a woman 529 and children, the most sensitive among us would have to consume 154 apples per day, every day.

    The best food safety advice we can give from the produce industry is the advice of the U.S. Surgeon General and leading health organizations, who all agree there is far greater health risk from not eating fruits and vegetables than from any theoretical risk that might be posed by consuming trace amounts of pesticide residues – like apples that are well within EPA’s safe levels. Consumers would be smart to simply follow the advice of the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which all say – eat more fruit.

    And, we like your advice about simply washing if you have concerns. Studies have even shown that washing with just water alone is a great method to remove any trace levels of pesticide from your produce.

    Thanks again for a wonderful story, and hope this information helps!

    • Sam
      09/14/2015 at 5:44 PM

      Thanks for the informative comment! I agree that it’s important to check all sources for information before making decisions about what to eat. Consumers have a right to know what’s in (and on) their food–through ACCURATE reporting. And you’re absolutely right: the positive effects of a plant-based diet far outweigh the potential risks from potential contaminants. Even with these risks, plant-based diets are safer and more health-promoting than those containing animal products and processed foods.

      Washing has always worked for me as far as cleaning off produce is concerned. I even used RAD Soap’s Hempstile all-purpose soap to wash off apples when I was on a trip and without a proper veggie wash recently. Worked like a charm! 😀

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