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When I was a child, I never ate school lunches. My sister and I always had a home-packed lunch, complete with sandwich, veggies and, in the winter, a thermos of soup.
And almost year-round, but especially in the fall, there was always, always a shiny, crisp Macintosh apple.
We all know the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It originated in Wales, and has been shortened from the original: “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”
Well, if I’m any example, this bit of wisdom may very well be true. I’ve hardly been sick a day in my life!
Right now, fall is bringing us a bounty of apples in many colors, flavors, shapes and sizes. One of the great pleasures of the season where I live has always been to take a drive to a local orchard and pick our own.
There’s abundant research to show that, no matter what variety is your favorite, you’ll be making a healthy choice by eating that “apple a day!”
4 ways apples keep you healthy
1. Apples guard against stroke.
A 2011 study followed over 20,000 adults for ten years and monitored the fruits and vegetables they ate. It was clear that eating white-fleshed fruits, particularly apples and pears, lowered stroke risk by 52 percent.
The powerful antioxidant quercetin is thought to be the reason. It inhibits the production of cytokines, proteins that trigger inflammation in the body.
2. Apples lower LDL cholesterol.
This is one way that eating apples lowers your stroke risk. Keeping “bad” LDLs down reduces plaque buildup in the arteries. That plaque is the first step in the blood flow blockage that can result in a stroke.
Women between 45 and 65 who ate 75 grams of dried apples each day had a 23 percent decrease in LDLs over a period of six months. The researchers responsible for this study were stunned by these results.
“I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol by 4 percent,” said Dr. Bahram H. Arjmandi of Florida State University.
3. Apples reduce diabetes risk.
Data from three large-scale studies conducted between 1984 and 2009 revealed a strong connection between apples and lowered risk for type 2 diabetes.
A total of 187,382 participants, none of whom had diabetes at the start, had their diets analyzed every four years for how often they ate a range of fruits. Over the course of the study, 6.5 percent developed diabetes, but data showed that eating three servings a week of apples, pears, blueberries or raisins reduced the risk by 7 percent.
4. Apples may help prevent breast cancer.
The fact that fruits and vegetables are cancer fighters is nothing new. But it seems that apples are especially promising.
Dr. Rui Hai Liu, a prominent researcher and associate professor of food science at Cornell University, has conducted no less than six studies pointing to the anti-cancer power of apples and other fruits.
In his most recent animal study, which lasted 24 weeks, Dr. Liu found that a highly malignant type of adenocarcinoma, one of the main causes of death in breast cancer patients, developed in 81 percent of rats who did not eat apples, but only in 57, 50 and 23 percent of those who ate one, three or six apples a day, respectively.
Easy ways to get your apple-a-day
Apples may just be the most versatile fruit out there. There’s nothing like biting into a crisp, juicy one for pure enjoyment. But there are so many other ways to get your daily apple!
Add chopped apple to salads, oatmeal, pancakes or bread dough. Bake them with cinnamon to make your whole house smell good. Add sliced apples to grilled cheese.
Here are a few yummy recipes to get you started!
|Apple SlawIn my experience, it seems people either really like or really don’t like slaw. I like it, and so do my children. And we especially like this recipe. My kids like Apple Slaw on barbecue sandwiches. I like it by itself. Get the recipe!
|Sweet and Spicy Apple SnackWe always have apples on hand. Sometimes we eat them with nut butter. Sometimes we eat them plain. But here’s a recipe for a simple snack that includes cinnamon. It’s a yummy way to use that healthy spice. Get the recipe!
|Stuffed ApplesWhat child doesn’t love apple slices smeared with peanut butter? It was one of my favorite snacks when I was a child. My kids enjoyed them, too, when they were young. Get the recipe!
|Raw Apple CrispApples are so good and so good for you. Packed with phytonutrients, they can help regulate blood sugar. So when you’re craving something sweet, reach for an apple. Here’s a raw apple dessert recipe that is sure to please the whole family. Get the recipe!
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‘Apple a day’ advice rooted in science — American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Apples Prevent Mammary Tumors in Rats — Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry