Editor’s note: “A Better Life” is a weekly column by the USU Extension – Tooele Office that focuses on a variety of topics intended to enhance quality of life.
October is National Apple Month, the only generic apple promotion in the United States. Originally founded in 1904 as National Apple Week, it was expanded to the entire month of October.
National Apple Month’s mission is to increase apple industry sales, and to enhance consumer awareness and usage of apples and apple products. Its goal is to increase apple industry sales through a fall retail display contest, foodservice promotional contest, to recognize outstanding retailers for their apple merchandising, and to develop strong relations with retail, foodservice and apple industry members. Watch and see if any local stores participate.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, but do you know it’s true? An apple a day actually does keep the doctor away. But just how and why are apples healthy for you? Studies prove apples keep your belly full and fit, your memory sharp, and cancer, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease at bay.
Consider these bites of healthy apple facts:
• Apples are packed with antioxidants. Mounting research suggests powerful antioxidants in apples and apple products play an essential role in reducing risks of prevalent diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Apples are rich in a specific antioxidant, called quercetin, which is known to inhibit cancer onset and cell proliferation.
• Apples keep the cardiologist away. Ohio State University reports eating one apple a day for four weeks lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL, the “bad cholesterol,” by 40%.
• Apples are good for good gut bacteria. University of Denmark researchers discovered apple consumption increases the number of good gut bacteria. Apples are also among the tastiest and best sources of soluble fiber, which helps keep our insides sparkling clean.
• Apples contribute to good bone and muscle health. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests older women who eat plenty of fruits (including apples) may have a lower chance of bone fractures. Ursolic acid, a natural compound found in the apple’s skin, may prevent muscle wasting that can result from aging or illness.
• Apples help you have a healthier body. People who eat apples or apple products are likely to have lower blood pressure and trimmer waistlines. Research from the University of Illinois also suggests soluble fiber, like pectin from apples, may also strengthen the immune system.
• An apple a day (for mom) keeps the inhaler away? Research from the UK suggests children of mothers who eat apples during pregnancy are much less likely to exhibit symptoms of asthma at age five.
This time of year apples are in abundance. Taking a bite out of a fresh, juicy apple is always a great idea, but there is so much more you can do with apples! Take advantage of their great price and peak ripeness this month and try something new.
There are thousands of apple varieties in the world. They come in shades of red, yellow and green. The most popular varieties here in Utah are Gala, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Red Delicious, and Fuji. Grocery stores often carry even more varieties such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, McIntosh, and Pink Lady. These varieties can be broken down into three main categories: eating apples, cooking apples, and all-purpose apples.
Eating apples are those best for eating fresh. Fuji, Gala, and Red Delicious varieties fall into this category because they lose their flavor and turn to mush when cooked.
Cooking apples hold their shape better in heat, thus are best for cooking. Golden Delicious and Granny Smith fit into this category.
Braeburn, Jonagold, McIntosh, and Pink lady fit into the all-purpose apple category. They are great eaten plain, but work OK for cooking, too.
Next time you are shopping at a local farmers market or grocery store, pick up a few apple varieties and experiment with a new apple idea. My favorite way to use apples that is unexpected is by thinly slicing them into coleslaw. I’ve also included a recipe below for some amazing spiced applesauce bread that is always a hit with kids.
Spiced Applesauce Bread:
1 ¼ cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1 cup sugar
½ cup coconut oil (or other oil)
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of each: nutmeg, allspice and salt
½ cup chopped pecans
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a 9×5 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine and mix all wet ingredients in one bowl. Combine and mix all dry ingredients in a second bowl. Slowly add and mix the bowl of dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients. Pour batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.
Sarah Patino is the Certified Nutrition Educator for Food Sense at the USU Extension – Tooele County office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. She can be reached at 435-277-2408 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.