A healthy diet is packed with a lot more fruits and vegetables than the average American diet. And with overweight and obesity impacting the quality of life for more Americans than ever – from our young children to our elderly – it’s time to change the way we eat. The ever changing science about micronutrients may be fascinating (it is!), but part of pushing back the tide of today’s poor eating habits can be as simple as this: eat more fruits and vegetables.
May I offer up the quintessential fall apple for your consideration. Apples are not only in season and locally available right now (read: high quality and affordable), they’re also widely loved, making them a simple choice for adding more produce to the day’s diet.
They can be enjoyed as a healthy snack anytime of day after a simple rinse. Kids might like them sliced into finger-food friendly pieces alongside a vanilla yogurt and peanut butter dip. Apples are great any time of day: from chopped apples in your morning oatmeal, to slices with turkey in a whole wheat wrap for lunch, to matchstick-cut apples in your easy weeknight stir-fry, to homemade applesauce or simply freshly sliced pieces for dessert.
If you’re not convinced yet, here are 11 more reasons to love apples in a healthy diet.
- Just the facts. The facts speak for themselves. The Nutrition Facts, that is. One medium 3” apple is under 100 calories, and a good source of fiber and vitamin C, with zero fat, cholesterol or sodium.
- Heart-healthy. Apples provide soluble fiber called pectin, the kind linked to heart health through lowering LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
- Digestive health. Between the soluble fiber in the apple flesh and the insoluble fiber in the skin, apples are good for healthy digestion
- Antioxidant appeal. Apples are among the top sources of antioxidants according to the USDA research branch, and most of it is in the peel and just under it.
- Protection from cancer. A number of emerging research studies at top institutions such as Cornell and the Mayo Clinic have found that apples are protective cancers of the breast, pancreas, colon, liver, prostate, and bowel.
- Lower blood pressure. People who eat apples are more likely to have lower blood pressure, perhaps because of the favorable sodium:potassium ratio.
- What’s missing matters. Apples are naturally fat free, saturated fat free, cholesterol free, and sodium free!
- A quirky word: Quercetin. It’s categorized as a flavanoid, which is an antioxidant, which means it helps the body fight damaging oxidation. Apples are large contributor of flavanoids in the U.S. diet.
- Safe for just about everyone. Wondering what to serve at your next kids’ party? Forget specialty foods, go for fresh produce that is naturally free from the major allergens (wheat, eggs, milk, nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, soy).
- Good carbs. The truth about carbs is that they’re your body and brain’s preferred fuel source. It’s added sugars in foods that offer little else by way of nutrition (read: soda) that you want to limit. Plus, let’s look at the facts. Apples contain 19g of sugars plus a whole lot of good health. Sugar-sweetened beverages can have anywhere from 27-52g of sugar per serving.
- Variety keeps it interesting. With over 20 varieties to try, there’s a perfect apple out there for everyone. Click here for a list of New York’s finest apples.
My favorite varieties are Pink Lady, Honey Crisp and Granny Smith. What’s your favorite apple? How do you use apples in your cooking? What’s your favorite way to enjoy this seasonal favorite? Share your answer on the FreshDirect Facebook page or tell us on Twitter (@FreshDirect).