Apples are Powerful Nutritional Foods
You have all heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. But honestly, how many take this saying seriously? I think we should. This saying is gaining more and more credibility as research mounts on this common fruit, of which there are over 7500 varieties worldwide.
Even ancient civilizations have known the many benefits of apples. In Ayurveda, apples are used as medicine and are said to be good for Pitta and Kapha. However, they are too drying for Vata unless they are well cooked and spiced. For example use spices like cinnamon, ginger or cardamom. Greek and Roman mythology refer to apples as symbols of love and beauty. They must have known that apples keep us healthy and beautiful.
But why are apples so good for us?
They are full of health promoting vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, beta-carotene, iron and potassium. The vitamin C content may not be as high as in oranges but apples also have a very high mineral content and also contain pectin and malic acid, which are good for your intestines.
Here in New Zealand a heritage apple named Monty’s Surprise has been the subject of much research in recent years. Research has shown that the high levels of procyanidins and quercetin flavanoids in the skin of Monty’s Surprise can inhibit colon, breast and liver cancer cells.
Apples are great for Asthma sufferers. In the UK, 1500 adults participated in a survey of dietary habits for one year. People who ate at least two apples per week faced a 22-32% lower asthma risk than those who ate fewer than two apples per week. This protective effect may come from the selenium and quercetin content of apples.
They are also beneficial for the digestive system, liver and people with gall stones. Gall stones have been removed by doing an apple juice and olive oil flush. The malic acid in apples is excellent for the digestive system and the liver. Pectin concentrates in the peel and is not only used to set jam but is beneficial to the liver and aids protein digestion. After the Chernobyl disaster local children were given apple pectin for radioprotection to reduce the cesium-137 levels in their organs.
Apple cider vinegar is great for salad dressings or mixed with honey as a drink. Whole books have been written on this liquid alone. If you drink 1 tsp of this vinegar in small amount of water 30 minutes before your meal you will improve your digestion. Many swear by it to reduce blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. It also works wonders for the removal of warts. Even the difficult plantar or verruca warts don’t stand a chance. (Saw this work first hand on my daughter).
As with many fruits, the skin is of more benefit than the flesh, so don’t peel! Or if you must, then why not dry the peel, grind and use as flavoring or throw it into a smoothie. You can also steep the dry skin in hot water to make a nice apple tea.
Put an apple in your child’s lunchbox but please make it an organic one. In New Zealand over 80% of apples sampled contained residues of 20 different pesticides. If organic apples are impossible to find, washing and peeling a non-organic apple may reduce the amount of pesticide residues. It has been suggested that soaking apples for 20 minutes in water to which a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar has been added and cleaning them with a brush in this solution may remove or draw out some of the chemicals.
Many ways to eat apples
It’s easy just to bite into a fresh apple, chew well and enjoy! Here are some more ways to consume this healthy fruit:
For a light but satisfying breakfast start the day with a stewed apple and cinnamon. Ayurveda says that it builds an appetite for lunch, stimulates regular bowel movements and increases vitality. For another great breakfast, grate an apple and add natural yoghurt, coconut, nuts and seeds (for protein) and sprinkle with some cinnamon if desired.
A great snack for you or the kids is to cut an apple into 1 cm thick slices, spread peanut butter (the no added sugar type) onto every slice. Sprinkle half the slices with chopped almonds and lightly press together with another slice, peanut butter sides together. Yummy! This is full of healthy fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals.
Apple Sauce can be made by simply cooking apples slowly then puree in a blender until smooth. This can replace oil in baking and reduces the amount of sugar needed. Sauce may be frozen or preserved using the water bath method.
Baked apples, for each person allow: 1 apple, 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp brown sugar (or less depending on tartness of apple) and cinnamon to taste.
1. Core each apple and place upright in a shallow, lightly buttered dish.
2. Fill cavity with brown sugar and butter, sprinkle with cinnamon. You may also pop into the center a few raisins, sultanas, a date, a few nuts, whatever you fancy.
3. Bake at 175° C for around 15 minutes until the apple is tender and sugar has begun caramelizing.
4. Serve with natural yogurt, fresh cream or homemade ice-cream for a real treat.
What is your favourite apple recipe? I value your opinion and insights and like to hear from you! Please leave me a comment.