I love apples, especially firm Red delicious. I find the crunching sound and the flow of sweet, juicy nutritious goodness down my throat is therapeutic and refreshing. The nutritional value of apples, whether fresh or dried is phenomenal, which is probably why the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” was coined. Another very good thing about apples is that there are so many different varieties, and therefore, you are bound to find one that you like, and can include it in your healthy eating diet. What makes apples so nutritiously good and appealing?
Apples are ideal snacks because they are highly nutritious, but are relatively low calories. The primary sugar in apples, fructose, is sweeter than sucrose and has a glycemic index that’s lower than that of both sucrose and glucose. In fact, fructose has the lowest glycemic index of all the natural sugars. The fructose in apples is metabolised slowly, which helps control blood sugar levels, a plus point, especially for diabetics.
Apples are a good source of fibre, which helps maintain a healthy digestive tract, possibly protecting against large bowel disease. Fibre in the gut helps retain water and adds bulk to the stools leading to softer stools and prevents constipation.
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The soluble fibre, pectin, found in abundance in apples, slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream guarding against sudden peaks in blood sugar levels, which may be of particular benefit to diabetics. Pectin, like other soluble fibres, also helps lower blood cholesterol by binding to the cholesterol in the bile. This cholesterol is not reabsorbed but is removed from the body with the fibre as waste. Fibre also binds various toxic materials, including lead and carcinogens, and promotes their efficient excretion and a healthier digestive tract.
Some varieties of apples are an excellent source of vitamins C, which acts as an anti-oxidant and helps maintain a healthy immune system. Note, though, that dried apples lose all of their vitamin C during drying, and as moisture is lost the sugars they contain become more concentrated. Therefore, dried apples contain more calories than fresh ones, pound for pound. Other nutrients found in apples include vitamins A and B1, and some essential minerals and trace elements. The natural plant pigments in the apple skins, the bioflavonoids, are also antioxidants and add to the benefit of vitamin C.
So, eating apples, whether fresh, dried or apple juice, as part of a healthy diet can massively enhance one’s health and health outcomes. Their high nutrition value and low calorie content make apples a healthy snack that can be useful in weight control and management. To get the best benefit, one needs to eat other types of fruits, as well as observing a healthy balanced diet. Generally, choosing more nutrient-dense foods and less calorie-dense foods goes a long way in improving one’s health and nutritional outcomes. Eat healthy, live healthy!