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Top 5 Foods With Surprising Qualities: Apples

Updated on January 30, 2010

From ancient mythology to modern lunch bags everywhere, apples have long been a coveted fruit. Norse tales say that apples keep you young forever. Though no definitive study to date has verified this claim, there's no doubt that apples are a great-tasting, nutritious snack. The fiber and vitamin C contained within their delicate skin are powerful disease fighters.

And the best news of all: You need never get bored of the same old apple! There are a wide variety of apples to choose from. For example, Macouns are dynamite for cooking, while the Braeburn is a wonderful take-along snack. Although the Granny Smith doesn't get a lot of respect among apple enthusiast purists, I find that refreshing tang much more appealing to my taste buds than the mellower and mealier versions of apples. I'm a real Granny Smith fan!

Nutritional Perks

There's no doubt that apples deserve their high status as the symbol of good health and vitality as they contain beneficial nutrients such as fiber and vitamin C. Apples are also a top source of the lesser-known antioxidant quercetin, which some studies have shown to be a potentially powerful cancer fighter. It may also help prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease.

Fiber
Apples are a good source of both insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is known to ease constipation and prevent diverticulosis, a colon disorder. It's also the cause of that full feeling you get after eating an apple, making apples a great companion to any weight loss program.

The soluble fiber in apples cuts the risk of heart attack and stroke by keeping cholesterol levels low. The pectin, a type of soluble fiber that helps diabetics because it acts as a thickener and slows digestion, slows the rise of blood sugar. Pectin also seems to reduce the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver, creating another front against cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin C
One apple contains over 13 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin C, a known antioxidant. Antioxidants prevent the damage caused by free radicals. If left unchecked, free radicals may cause cellular damage and raise your risk for heart disease and cancer. Vitamin C is also effective in fighting colds and fatigue.

Selecting Apples

When selecting apples, look for an intact stem: a good sign that the apple is not overripe. The apple should feel heavy for its size, another key indicator of freshness. Smell is important. A great-smelling apple usually means it'll taste great too. As a general rule, apples should be free of bruises and scrapes.

Storage and Handling

To keep apples fresh and juicy, store them in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Leaving your apples at room temperature will cause rapid softening. Apples tend to bruise easily, so handle them carefully; don't squeeze or drop them.
Preparation Pointers
You'll reap the most nutritional benefit when apples are eaten raw with the skin, since the skin contains the most nutrients. No matter how you choose to eat them, be sure to wash the apples thoroughly with cold water before eating or preparing.

Continued In Top 5 Foods With Surprising Qualities: Apples Part II

 

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