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Does an Apple a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?

apples, benefits of apples

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

I have a special favor to ask of all of you readers of this column. Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU food and nutrition specialist, along with her colleague Esther McGinnis, NDSU Extension horticulturist, invite you to complete a short Web-based survey about apples to learn your preferences.

Participating will take about five minutes, and you can sign up for a chance to win one of 25 2016 calendars with recipes, and nutrition and food safety tips. If you win, the calendar will be mailed to you. Please go to http://tinyurl.com/NDSUapplesurvey to participate. (Thanks, by the way!)

Are apples healthful? A medium apple, which is about the size of a tennis ball, contains about 80 calories, 3 grams of dietary fiber and only a trace of fat. Apples are made up of about 85 percent water. The type of fiber apples contain, called pectin, has been linked with lowering blood cholesterol and potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.

Apples may help with weight maintenance or loss. For example, a 12-week study conducted in Brazil showed that overweight women ages 30 to 50 lost weight when they supplemented their diets with apples or pears. Groups of study participants ate either extra fruit or a cookie with fruit fiber. The group who ate an oat cookie with fruit fiber did not lose a significant amount of weight. In addition, the blood sugar levels among the group eating apples or pears decreased, compared with those eating the oat cookies with fruit fiber.

A more recent study examined the effects of apple juice on brain function. The researchers studied 21 nursing home residents ranging in age from 72 to 93. All were experiencing moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. The residents continued their regular diet with the addition of two 4-ounce glasses of apple juice daily. Although their ratings on the Dementia Rating Scale did not improve, their anxiety and agitation levels decreased.

Although the results of these two studies were promising, more research is needed. However, we do not need to wait for the results to enjoy more apples every day. Apples are a delicious and healthful ingredient.

When selecting apples, choose fruit without bruises. Fruit without blemishes tends to last longer. Store apples in a cool place just above freezing, such as in a refrigerator with humidity to help prevent shriveling.

Remember to wash apples with plenty of water, but no soap, before eating. If you have an abundance of apples, remember, they can be frozen, canned, dried or made into jelly. Visit https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food for information and recipes about all types of food preservation.

If you press apples to make apple juice or cider, be sure to heat the juice to at least 165 degrees to kill bacteria that could be present. Foodborne illness outbreaks have been associated with fresh, unpasteurized apple juice. Store heat-treated apple juice in the refrigerator.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

 

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