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Enjoy the Fall Apple Harvest

apple harvestCrisp, juicy apples are a fall tradition. Take advantage of the bountiful selection of apples available this time of year. There are hundreds of varieties to sample. They range from red to yellow to green, crunchy to tender, sweet to tart and simple to complex.

Apples contain a wide variety of phytochemicals, many of which have been found to have strong antioxidant activity. They are particularly high in quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant.1 Epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of apples with reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes and obesity.2-7 Not only can eating an apple a day help keep the doctor away, an apple a day might keep the pounds away too; adding apples to the diet has been shown to enhance weight loss.8-9 To optimize phytochemical content, it is important to eat the pigment-rich apple skin. Choose whole, organic apples over applesauce or apple juice.

Apples are also a rich source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that is found in plant cell walls and tissues. This soluble fiber works to lower cholesterol by reducing the amount that is absorbed in the intestines. Studies have shown that the pectin in apples interacts with other apple phytonutrients to achieve an even greater reduction in cholesterol.10 Researchers have also discovered that apples can boost intestinal health by increasing the numbers of good gut bacteria which feed on apple pectin.11

Portable and easy to pack, apples are great to include in your on-the-go meals. For an easy dessert, enjoy them baked with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. I like to dice an apple, toss it with baby greens, some chickpeas, maybe a handful of walnuts or pumpkin seeds and then top it off with one of my flavored vinegars or perhaps my Almond Balsamic Dressing.

Experiment with the many different varieties of apples to discover which ones are your favorites. Have fun seeking out your local organic apple growers, farm stands and farmers markets and look for different types of interesting apples. They do not have to look perfect. The smaller and more imperfect they look, the better they taste. If you go apple picking and get lots of them, don’t worry, you can store them for several months. Just wrap each apple in a paper towel to prevent them from touching each other and store in a closed cardboard box in a cool place such as the basement or garage.


References:
1. Lee KW, Kim YJ, Kim DO, Lee HJ, Lee CY. Major phenolics in apple and their contribution to the total antioxidant capacity. J. Agric Food Chem. 2003; 51(22):6516-20
2. Lee, C.Y. and N.L. Smith. Apples: an important source of antioxidants in the American diet. New York Fruit Quart. 2000: 8(8): 15-17.
3. Eberhardt, M.V. and C.Y. Lee and R.H. Liu. Antioxidant activity of fresh apples. Nature. 2000; 405: 903-904
4. Heo, H.J. and D.O. Kim, S.J. Choi, D.H. Shin and C.Y. Lee. Apple phenolics protect in vitro oxidatie stress-induced neuronal cell death. J. Food Sci.2004; 69: S357-360.
5. Yoon, H. and R.H. Liu. Effect of selected phytochemicals and apple extracts on NF-kB activation in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2007; 55: 3167-3173.
6. Boyer J, Rui Hai L. Apple Phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutr J. 2004 May 12,3:5.
7. Jedrychowski W, Maugeri U, Popiela T et al. Case-control study of beneficial effect of regular consumption of apples on colorectal cancer risk in a population with relatively low intake of fruits and vegetables. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2010 Jan;19 (1):42-7
8.Conceio de Oliveira M, Sichieri R, Sanchez Moura A. Weight loss associated with a daily intake of three apples or three pears among overweight women. Nutrition. 2003 Mar;19(3):253-6.
9.Flood-Obbagy JE, Rolls BJ. The effect of fruit in different forms on energy intake and satiety at a meal. Appetite. 2009 Apr;52(2):416-22.
10. Aprikian O, Duclos V. Guyot S et al. Apple pectin and a polyphenol-rich apple concentrate are more effective together than separately on cecal fermentations and plasma lipids in rats. J. Nutr. 2003; 133(6) 1860-1865.
11. Licht T. Hansen M. Bergstrom A. Effects of apples and specific apple components on the cecal environment of conventional rats: role of apple pectin. BMC Microbiology 2010 10:13 Condezo-Hoyos L, Mohanty IP, Noratto GD. Assessing non-digestible compounds in apple cultivars and their potential as modulators of obese faecal microbiota in vitro. Food Chemistry. 2014 Oct 15;161:208-215

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