“She’ll be apples” is a quaint Australian turn of phrase meaning everything will be all right, and it appears when it comes to our health, apples really live up to it. It has become an emblem for healthy eating, representing all that is nutritious, simple and good, overcoming its morally dubious (remember the Garden of Eden) past and now carries an impressive health halo.
Believe it or not, there are more than 6000 named varieties of apple! What a wonder; and surely there’s a variety for everyone. I’m a Jazz fan myself; the Jazz apple variety that is, and I really enjoy a Pink Lady as well. I have fond memories of picking Roman Beauties from a local orchard as a teenager. If these names mean nothing to you, that’s because there are so many different varieties around the world and because our choices are now limited due to large scale production of a limited number of commercially grown varieties. I can’t say I’ve seen Roman Beauties since. To get more novelty in your apple eating, shop in farmers markets, buy direct from the orchard, or grow your own.
There is a substantial and growing body of scientific evidence showing that eating apples regularly can help protect against diabetes and cardiovascular disease via their ability to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. But wait, there’s more: there is promising basic research in animals and in cell studies demonstrating apple phytochemicals can also prevent cancers. And the wonders don’t stop there: apples may help with weight control. Studies have shown that eating an apple prior to a meal can help reduce the total energy intake of the meal by up to 15%. This is likely due to its low GI and high fibre content taking the edge of your hunger. Wow; what a great all-rounder. Apples are good sources of vitamin C and fibre, and rich in phytochemicals, including flavonoids (catechins, flavonols, quercetin) and phenolic acids (quercetin glycosides, catechin, epicatechin, procyanidins) that provide important antioxidant properties. And while the so-called exotic super fruits are winning all the plaudits, apples are the everyday hero containing the highest levels of antioxidants of all the commonly eaten (and more affordable) fruits.
While an apple is the perfect portable, sweet, juicy and healthy snack, the genius is in its versatility. Juiced, grated, dried, baked, stewed or pureed, it is just at home with sweet or savoury accompaniments: anything from roast pork and apple sauce to baked apple with raisins. A favourite snack of mine is fresh apple and raw almonds, or sliced apple and peanut butter on wholegrain toast, or a tart green apple (such as a Granny Smith) with cheese. And grated apple in Bircher muesli makes even a weekday breakfast a special occasion. Cooked apples work beautifully with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and their acidity balances well with the creaminess of natural yoghurt and ice cream. And there’s a good reason why ‘apple and walnut’ rolls off the tongue: because it’s so good rolling onto the tongue!
I’ve heard some people complain about apples being kept in cold storage, but I’d say there are way more important issues with food to be concerned about: world hunger, food waste, and the demise of cooking skills, just to name a few. If we want apples all year, then we have to put some away. This idea of preserving the harvest for the off season is not new, but because it’s now being done on a large scale we feel sceptical and uneasy. Worry not: keeping apples in cold storage can minimise nutrient losses, and preserve (or in some cases increase!) antioxidant levels. Although apples look fabulous on show in a bowl, store them in the fridge to keep them fresh and crisp and preserve their antioxidants. Apples that have gone floury have not been stored correctly. Cut apples will brown when exposed to the air but you can delay this by coating cut apple in lemon juice, which adds a nice tart flavour in a fruit salad too. Apples are fabulous so enjoy them regularly and ‘she’ll be apples’.