Apples' Health Benefits
By Laura Ng
Meet your new healthy snack - the easy-to-carry, filling, juicy and refreshing... apple. So, how do apples benefit your health?
Raw apple benefits your health by carrying rich amount of pectin which acts as antioxidant against the damage caused by cholesterol in the blood - fact released by the University of California, Davis in May 2006.
Another research from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (Aug 2006) indicated that apple juice may actually increase the production of essential neurotransmitter in the brain, resulting in improved memory.
Neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine are chemicals released from nerve cells that transmit messages to other nerve cells. Such communication between nerve cells is vital for good health, not just in the brain, but throughout the body.
The researchers foresee that apples' health benefits will be extended to treat Alzheimer's disease.
So if you don't want to miss out on the health benefits of apples, you should consider drinking a glass of freshly squeezed apple juice after a meal, especially if the meal contains high fat.
More Health Benefits of Apples
In herbal medicine, ripe, uncooked apples are traditionally used to treat constipation, while the stewed fruit can be eaten for diarrhea and gastroenteritis (aka gastric flu). Apples are also used in poultice (a hot, moist, soothing substance put on the body) for skin inflammation. And some varieties provide vitamin C - an antioxidant that helps to maintain your immune system.
If you want to lose weight, you'll love the weight loss benefits of apples because they contain relatively low calorie count, fat and sodium level but brimming with soluble fiber, vitamins and minerals. That makes apple an ideal natural food to include as part of your weight loss regimen. In fact, you can eat it as a meal, preferably for dinner. With just 2 to 3 apples, you can satisfy your hunger but reduce your overall caloric intake.
Let's analyze how apple benefits your weight loss.
One medium-sized apple delivers 5 grams of fiber, 80 calories and zero fat. Let's say you need to maintain around 1,600 caloric intake daily. It's 6 P.M now and you have eaten around 1,400 calories from your previous meals. If you take another carb-laden food, you will burst the limit. So try eating two apples. They fill you up with only 160 calories in addition. Get it?
Next, fiber in apple is a powerful weight loss agent. It acts like a sponge, absorbing water and expanding in your stomach to make you feel full sooner. At the same time, it keeps your hunger at bay longer since it does not get digested so quickly.
Being low in sodium, apples also prevent or reduce your water retention problem. Not to mention that its vitamins and minerals strengthen your immune system and vitality.
Health Benefits of Dried Apples
You can take dried apples as snack. And here's how you can make dried apples.
First, you slice the apples and then expose those slices to the fumes of burning sulphur to prevent them from browning. Then you dry them in the sun on wire trays.
As the slices lose their moisture, the natural sugars in them will become concentrated. That's why athletes value dried apples as a powerful source of carbohydrate that'll quickly convert to energy.
Do take note. Dried apples contain six times more calories than fresh ones. Although they are high in fiber and moderate source of iron, they'll lose their vitamin C during drying process. So, unless you're an athlete who requires an outburst of energy, do take more fresh apples for health benefits rather than the dried ones.
How to Choose and Store Apples to Maximize Health Benefits
When you're choosing apples, make sure they are firm to the touch and free from brown bruises. Handle them gently to prevent bruising.
Large apples are more likely to over-ripe which are best for stewing and baking.
As for storage, you should store them in a cool environment (especially refrigerator) where oxygen balance has been chemically lowered. This halts the natural maturing processes, so they can be kept for several months without going soft.
When the fruit is again exposed to normal temperature and oxygen level - on the supermarket shelves, it continues to mature and may quickly go soft.
Another thing to take note is, you can put apples together with other fruits (like apricots) in a paper bag for two to four days to help them ripe faster. But on the other hand, avoid storing apples with strong-smelling foods to prevent them from absorbing unpleasant odors. Keep in mind.
To prevent cut or sliced apples from browning, drop them in a bowl mixed of one part lemon juice to three parts water - or Vitamin C-fortified 100% apple juice.
Should You Peel the Apple?
No, as two-thirds of the fiber, and many of the antioxidants, are found in an apple's peel. However, some raise concerns about the amount of pesticides on the peel. so it's best you run apples under the tap more thoroughly if you decide to eat the peel.
Is Apple Juice Just as Beneficial?
If possible, eat apples on their own as any processing will result in some loss of the polyphenols and fiber.
However on the other hand, it doesn't hurt to make some mouthwatering apple pies to satisfy your craving. Just don't eat too much per day and you'll be just fine.
But if you really want to drink apple juice, opt for the cloudy rather than clear apple juice to get more polyphenols and pectins. This way you'll reap as much health benefits from apples as possible.
Reap Apples' Benefits Now...
Apple Pie Perfect: 100 Delicious and Decidedly Different Recipes for America's Favorite Pie by Ken Haedrich
The Apple Grower: Guide for the Organic Orchardist by Michael Phillips
Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss and Good Health by Cynthia Holzapfel
The Story of the Apple by Barrie E. Juniper
Organic Dried Apples by Newman's Own
More Health Benefits of Foods