January 3, 2012

An Apple a Day…

By Nikki Putnam R.D., L.D.N.
Hy-Vee Registered Dietician
(309) 292-7494

Kryptonite is to Superman as apples are to doctors’ offices. How does an apple a day keep the doctor away?

…keeps heart disease away.

Last year, the Iowa Women’s Health Study reported that among the 34,000-plus women it has been tracking for almost 20 years, apples were associated with a lower risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. A few years earlier, Finnish researchers, studying dietary data collected over 28 years from 9,208 men and women, found that frequent apple eaters had the lowest risk of suffering strokes, compared with non-apple eaters. Experts attribute the heart-healthy benefits to antioxidant compounds found in apples, which help prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and also inhibit inflammation. Plus, the soluble fiber in apples has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

…keeps hunger at bay.

Apples satisfy hunger for a small amount of calories, (about 90 in a medium apple), so it’s not surprising that they can be part of a healthy diet that promotes weight loss. And in a recent study, dried apples also helped participants lose some weight. Women who ate a cup of dried apples daily for a year lost some weight and lowered their cholesterol and heart disease markers. The Florida State University researchers behind this study think apples’ antioxidants and a type of fiber called pectin, are responsible for the benefits—and think that fresh apples would be even more effective.

…keeps you exercising every day.

Eating an apple before you work out may boost your exercise endurance. Apples deliver an antioxidant called quercetin, which aids endurance by making oxygen more available to the lungs. One study showed that quercetin—when taken in supplement form—helped people bike longer. So, how many apples would you have to eat to see any benefit? More research is needed to determine exactly how quercetin can benefit your workout, but it can’t hurt to have a healthy snack of an apple beforehand!

Apples’ Superpowers:

Fiber: Apples contain as much fiber as a serving of bran cereal. The fiber, pectin, is known to aid in digestion and
stabilize blood glucose levels. Eating the skin of the apple will ensure you are getting both the insoluble and soluble fiber from the fruit.

Antioxidants: Apples contain vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect our cells from damage,
helping to prevent chronic disease, obesity, cancer and heart disease.

Phytochemicals: Apples contain flavonoids, a type of phytochemical that gives apples their color. Flavonoids help antioxidants work.