Apples have always been a staple in my home. My children eat them any time of the day or night. I often give thanks for this because they’re super convenient – no sticky fingers, no need to peel and they don’t squash in the schoolbag. And, as a health conscious mother, they tick all the boxes when it comes to a healthy snack – portable and easy to eat like other snack foods but without the added fat and sugar.
But does the proverbial apple a day really keep the doctor away. Apple eaters get a decent dose of fibre, some vitamin C and small amounts of B vitamins in a low calorie (kilojoule), low GI package. Apples are also loaded with anti-oxidant compounds called flavonoids (as are tea, onions and red wine) and are a significant source of quercetin and catechin. It’s these antioxidant compounds primarily in the skin that are thought to be responsible for apple’s health benefits – so wash them and eat them skin and all.
How does all this translate into health benefits? Research has found that people who eat three or four serves of fruit a day, particularly apples and oranges, have the lowest overall GI and best blood glucose control. While, large-scale studies published in recent years have also shown that eating apples is linked to a reduction in heart disease, diabetes, asthma and some types of cancer (lung, bowel and breast).
For example, the 2007 Women’s Health Study found greater intakes of flavonoid rich foods like apples (along with red wine and pears) are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease among post-menopausal women.
With so many of us needing to trim our tummies, eating an apple a day could put us on the path to shedding pounds without pangs. January GI News reported on a study that showed how feel full foods that you have to chew a lot (apples, carrots, pearl barley, muesli, very grainy breads, lean meat) satisfy appetite faster and keep you feeling fuller for longer. While a study published in Appetite by researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that ‘eating whole fruit (in this case a peeled apple) at the start of a meal can be an effective strategy for increasing satiety and decreasing energy intake at a meal.’ People who ate a whole apple about 15 minutes before lunch, consumed almost 190 fewer calories (around 800 kJ) at lunch than when they didn’t have the apple.
Crunch time In a world where eating for health can easily become complicated and costly, it’s good to know that something so naturally sweet and filling will help you enjoy a lifetime of healthy benefits.
For recipes using apples – with the skin on – check out this website.
Karen Kingham is a mother, health and nutrition writer and Accredited Practicing Dietitian. She also consults to the Australian apple industry.
Triple apple Thai salad
If you don’t like chilli, add some thin strips of red capsicum instead. This light and tangy low GI recipe was created by Kathryn Elliott for Apples Australia & Horticulture Aust Ltd.
Serves 4, but simply halve quantities for 2
50 g (about 2 oz) raw cashews
2 green onions, cut into thin strips
150 g (5 oz) sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
1 cup wild or baby rocket
1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
5 wombok (Chinese cabbage) leaves, finely shredded
½ cup fresh coriander leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 Fuji apple
1 Granny Smith apple
2 Jonathon or Pink Lady apples
1½ tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2.5 cm (1 inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Place cashews in a frying pan over a medium heat and toast until browned on all sides – about 3–4 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, as they can burn very quickly.
- To make the salad, put the shallots, sugar snap peas, rocket, chilli, wombok and herbs into a bowl. Quarter and core the apples (leaving the skins on). Cut into thin slices and add to the vegetables. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine and serve the salad immediately with the toasted cashews sprinkled on top.
Energy: 1030 kJ/245 cal; Protein: 5 g; Fat: 13 g (includes 2 g saturated fat); Carbs: 28 g; Fibre: 6 g