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Paula Przywojsk: Does an “apple a day keep the doctor away”?

Paula Przywojsk: Does an “apple a day keep the doctor away”?

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“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” originated in Wales in the 19th century and apple season is upon us. Apples contain no fat, sodium, or cholesterol and are a good source of fiber. Apples have a low calorie count of approximately 80 in a medium apple with a large sized apple going for approximately 140 calories. As with all fruit, apples are made up of all carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates that can give you a sustained energy boost and make you feel fuller longer. The majority of the fiber comes from eating the peel. Pectin, found in high levels in apples, is a type of soluble fiber that works to maintain a healthy digestive system. It can also reduce “bad” cholesterol and glucose levels as well as blood pressure. A recent study revealed that eating only 1 serving of fruit per day lowered risk of heart disease by 40%.

An apple also has many great nutrients that keep your body healthy, and these include vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemicals found mainly in fruits, vegetables, and whole gains. Apples are rich in isoflavones and phenolics. These “fighting” chemicals help neutralize free-radicals, or “bad cells” in our bodies. It is so importance to eat the whole fruit versus taking a vitamin or mineral supplement. You will not get the important fiber part of the fruit from taking supplements or by drinking juice. We also know that the actual color of the fruit has great health benefits. The red color of the apple, known as anthocyanin, provides part of this antioxidant affect.

An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria. Here in the coulee region we are fortunate to have locally grown apples close by. La Crescent, Minnesota is the Apple Capital of the USA! Apples can be stored at room temperature for a few days or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few weeks. To prevent browning, place sliced apples in a mixture of lemon or orange juice and water in a sealed container.

Apples of course are great to eat just as they are, but they also go well sliced on a peanut butter sandwich. Try granny smith apple slices on a grilled cheese sandwich! Other ideas include making your own apple dipping car. Dips can include peanut butter, yogurt, caramel, a pumpkin spice mix, or melted Brie cheese. So, with all of the wonderful health benefits of an apple, why wouldn’t we “eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away.” Here are two recipes to use apples in a different way.

Fresh Apple Salsa:

Serves 12

2 cups diced apples-any crisp variety works well-leave the skin on!

½ cup diced red bell pepper

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup dices red onion

¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon honey (optional)

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced

Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and enjoy. This works well with baked chips, served with pork or roast chicken, or as a side dish.

Per serving (1/4 cup): Calories 21, Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 g, Sodium 50 mg, Carbohydrates 6 g, Fiber 2 g, Protein 0 g

Apple Rings

Serves 8

  • 4 large apples, peel if preferred
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups water

Directions: Wash apples. Peel and core if preferred. Slice apples thinly and evenly (approximately ¼ inches), use a mandolin if possible. Mix lemon juice and water together. Soak apple slices in the lemon water mixture to prevent browning. When ready to dry, remove apple slices from water and pat dry with paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible.

Oven method: Place slices on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Dust with cinnamon. Bake slices in 200 degree F oven for 1 hour. Turn slices over and continue to bake 1 more hour for soft, dried apples or 2 more hours for crispy apple chips*.

Dehydrator method: Place slices on dehydrator trays. Dust with cinnamon. Dehydrate at 135 degrees F for 6-8 hours*.

*Times will depend on oven, type of apple and thickness of the slices.

Paula Przywojski is a Mayo Clinic Health System registered dietitian


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