Vitamins? Minerals? Health Benefits? Slimming Aid? Apples: What You Need To Know

Beautiful Crisp Crunchy Apples

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Creative Commons licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ | Source

Who doesn’t love a juicy, crisp dessert apple, maybe after dinner, or sliced onto cereal, or just as a plain snack when you’re feeling a little peckish between meals? Most of us have a favourite variety, of course: as a kid I used to love the sharply acidic, mouth-puckering quality of Granny Smith’s, as well as delighting in their brilliant shade of green, speckled with tiny white dots. (They seemed to embody the very fruit Eve would have picked off the tree at the behest of the snake, or that used to tempt Snow White. Even though Eve's actual fruity temptation was apparently actually a fig. Or is that a persimmon? Not an apple, anyhow!)

Your mileage, of course, may vary. Do you prefer the mild succulence of a Golden Delicious, the sharp, dry tang of a russet, or the sweet candy-flavoured savour of a Royal Gala? There are plenty more varieties to choose from, and not only the mainstream varieties available in every supermarket. Rare and heritage variants are increasingly available for the true connoisseur to relish and analyse.

When it comes to baking with apples, most of us associate the fruit immediately with apple pie, a real old-style treat with cream or custard. But there are plenty of other uses, sweet and savoury, to which it can be put: apple crumble, apple crisp, apple chutney, apple cake, a yummy salad ingredient, you name it really!

But what about the nutritional content of apples? Do they promise any health benefits for those interested in more than just a quick crunchy snack? If we take a look at the Nutritiondata website, then it seems that eating apples contain zero grams of fat, zero grams of protein and 17 grams of carbohydrate per 125 gram serving. That's not bad for 125 grams! When it comes to fiber, they can contribute 3 grams per 125g portion to the daily NAS (Nationnal Academy of Sciences) requirement of 25g for women and 28g for the male of the species. Not too shabby!

On the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients aspect of apples, the picture is interesting. The antioxidants, including phenols, found in apples have been suggested as a factor in the reduction of atherosclerosis in hamsters in a study by Decorde et al.[2] The predominant sugar found in apples, fructose, has been touted in the past as potentially beneficial with respect to blood sugar issues and some heart disease problems, but this is an area of contention.[3][4]. Vitamins found in apples in useful quantities include Vitamin C, at ten per cent of daily value per 125 gram serving.[1]

Should you include more apples in your daily diet? Hey, they're nutritious and delicious: why aren't you including them already?


References

1. Nutritiondata 'Apples, raw, with skin [Includes USDA commodity food A343].' Nutritiondata website. 2009. Available at <http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1809/2> Accessed 18/10/2010.

2. Décordé, K., Teissèdre, P.-L., Auger, C., Cristol, J.-P., Rouanet, J.-M. 'Phenolics from purple grape, apple, purple grape juice and apple juice prevent early atherosclerosis induced by an atherogenic diet in hamsters'. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 52: pp.400–407.

3. Varnam, A.H., Sutherland, J.M. 'Beverages: Technology, Chemistry and Microbiology.' Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers, Inc. 1999.

4. Robertson, L., Flinders, C., Ruppenthal, B. 'The new Laurel's kitchen: a handbook for vegetarian cookery & nutrition.' Berkeley: Ten Speed Press; 1986.


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