— By KATHY SMITH
Apples may seem like the plain Jane of fruits, but they have plenty of nutrition to make a wonderful snack.
A medium-sized, 3-inch diameter apple has about 95 calories and gives you 4 grams of fiber, which is about 10 percent to 15 percent of what you need each day. Apples have both soluble and insoluble fiber. This can help with your digestive system and help lower your cholesterol.
Apples are rich with vitamin C and potassium. Apples are an easy and inexpensive way to meet the dietary guideline recommendations to eat 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day.
Several studies have indicated that apples go beyond the basics of fruits and vegetables. In an analysis of studies done since 2004 by Advances in Nutrition, they suggest that an apple’s rich concentration of antioxidants and phytochemicals could help ward off cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease. They could even have positive effects related to cognitive decline seen in normal aging, diabetes, weight management, bone health, pulmonary function and gastrointestinal protection.
In addition, findings from a Dutch study of more than 20,000 people found that a high intake of apples, pears and other white-fleshed fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of stroke by 52 percent. The researchers said that each 25 gram increase in white fruit and vegetable intake per day was linked with a 9 percent lower risk of stroke. Other white-fleshed produce include cauliflower, bananas, cucumbers and chicory. They also had the same effect, but apples and pears were more commonly eating.
Nutrients experts recommend eating apples with their skin. Nearly half of an apple’s vitamin C is just below the skin surface, and the skin also has most of the apple’s insoluble fiber content.
Apples are available in a variety of varieties. Some are better for baking and making sauces. Others are better for eating fresh.
• You can make applesauce by pealing and dicing four to five apples and cooking over medium heat with ½-cup of water and 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon for about 30 minutes.
• Apples can be paired with dried cherries or cranberries for a colorful chutney.
• An apple and some peanut butter can make a great lunch or energy snack.
• Add apples to a salad for extra flavor and crunch.
• Cut apples in to slices and enjoy dipping in low-fat vanilla yogurt.
• Thinly slice apples and cheese and place between two slices of whole-grain bread and grill for a toasty sandwich.
It is best to store apples in the refrigerator between 32 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit in a perforated bag. It is best to wash apples immediately before eating or adding to a recipe.
The U.S. Apple Association offers more information about apples. You can visit their website at http://www.usapple.org/consumers.