Apples are awesome to the core
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Apples are awesome to the core

Apples - so much nutrition in every bite

As the saying goes: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – but what type of doctor? The answer may very well be the cardiologist, gastroenterologist, endocrinologist or even oncologist. Let me explain.

In general terms, eating fruit is one of the cornerstones of good health. There is increasing evidence that eating fruit is more effective at reducing the risk of cancer than specific vitamin and mineral supplements (1). Fruit is jam-packed full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (beneficial plant compounds). It’s also relatively low in energy, but high in fibre and water. Plus, it doesn’t contain any cholesterol or salt. And, apples are right up there at the top of the list of people’s favourite fruit.

Yet, what’s so special about apples? Indeed, they are one of Australia’s most popular fruits. And, the evidence suggests that apples certainly deserve their place in fruit bowls and fridges across the country. Here’s a top tip – apples maintain their freshness when stored in the crisper of the fridge.

Nutrition in apples

So, let’s explore the nutritional composition of this classic fruit and discuss the culinary versatility of some of the more popular types of apples.

Firstly, apples are rich in dietary fibre. One medium apple contains 4g of fibre, which is 13% of the adequate daily intake for men and 16% for women. Fibre is a nutritional friend and it truly loves peoples’ guts.

Fibre has been shown to reduce our risk of chronic diseases as well as certain types of cancers (2). There’s a stack of research that shows people with a higher intake of fibre have a reduced risk of premature death from a range of chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, lung disease and even diabetes (2). So, it’s worrying that despite this known benefit, Australians typically fall well short of their suggested dietary intake (3).

Fibre also helps to increase satiety, which is the feeling of fullness. This means that fibre can play a pivotal role in helping to manage waistlines, which are, based on current trends, continuing to swell. Research has shown that regular apple eaters are more likely to have a lower BMI than non-apple eaters (4). So, an apple a day could prove to be the secret weapon against any unwanted weight gain. Just be sure to include the skin, as much of the fibre and other beneficial nutrients are located close to, or in the skin.

Apple pectin

In addition, pectin, a type of soluble fibre found in apples has been shown to help the gut. Apple pectin is a prebiotic fibre. Prebiotics act as the fodder for the beneficial microbes (probiotics) that reside in the large intestines. Some studies have shown the ability of apple pectin to inhibit the growth of certain harmful bugs that can throw a person’s digestive systems out of whack (5). Given that a large percentage of the body’s immune system is also found in the gut, these prebiotic fibres likely aid human bodies’ defence systems against illness. Having a fit and robust immune system will help fight off any potential nasties this winter.

Pectin has also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, thereby improving heart health (6). Analysis of a large number of studies shows that pectin reduces total cholesterol by as much as 16 per cent (7). Plus, apple pectin’s may improve high blood pressure, an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke (8). Apples don’t miss a beat!

But apples are so much more than a source of fibre

Apples contain a host of other important nutrients making them all-rounders in the nutrition stakes. This impressive and versatile fruit contains a raft of B vitamins, potassium – important for blood pressure control, vitamin C for immunity, iron, zinc. Iron helps to circulate oxygen around the body while zinc is involved in immunity and cell growth. No wonder apples are good for the ticker, general wellbeing and waistline. Plus, emerging research has also shown that regularly eating apples is associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate and colon cancer (9). This may be due to the fibre content and/or unique make-up of the phytochemicals in apples.

Apples also have a low glycaemic index (10). This means that the carbohydrates are slowly broken down into glucose (the body’s preferred fuel source) in the bloodstream. Therefore, apples are the perfect choice for people with diabetes and for those wanting a more sustained release of energy. And some research shows that apples may help to keep hunger at bay. I challenge you to find a better snack to combat 3:30-itis.

Apples in a fruit bowl

Buy in season

The 2020 harvest is looking to be an abundant apple season thanks to the hot summer conditions and plentiful autumn rains. So, there has never been a better time to tuck into a crisp, juicy apple. Plus, apples not only provide value for money, but they may just be the perfect culinary ingredient to jazz up (pun intended) classic autumn recipes.

Two apples to mention are the JAZZ™ and envy™ apples from Montague. These apples are grown in orchards across the country. So, they are both better for people and the environment given they don’t have to travel very far to reach local grocers or supermarkets.

Montague is a 100 per cent family-owned business whose history stretches back three generations and its origins date back to 1948. Since then, Montague has become one of the largest fruit growers in Australia with over a whopping 4.6 million fruit trees planted by their family of growers. The company works with apple growers in all major states across the country. Montague are leaders and innovators in the Australian horticulture industry having introduced a number of new apples to the market including JAZZ™, Smitten®, Ambrosia™, Eve™, Envy™ and Yello™.

JAZZ™ apples

The JAZZ™ apple has a firm flesh so it’s always crunchy, juicy and delivers just the right balance of sweet and tart. JAZZ™ apples are robust, with a fine thin skin and dense crisp cream coloured flesh. This season’s crop is magnificent thanks to the fabulous growing conditions. JAZZ™ are scrumptious eaten fresh, baked, in smoothies and desserts. They are available in all supermarkets nationally from April until the end of the year.

JAZZ apples

envy™ apples

The envy™ apple hits all the right notes. It is a sweeter apple and also crisp and juicy with a bright white flesh but has a low acidity level and a low rate of oxidization, so it won’t go brown quickly once it’s sliced or diced. Apples are the perfect cheese board accompaniment, but they also work really nicely in fruit salads or fruit platters – think salads, tarts and bircher. envy™ apples can be found in Woolworths from May until the end of the year.

Apples tick all the right boxes. They deliver nutrients in spades, delight the taste buds and get people chewing. This apple season keep all those good foods coming. Prime your immune system for winter, boost gut and heart health and help fight off any potential nasties one crunchy, juicy bite at a time.

Supported by Montague Apples.

References

1) Bjelakovic, G., Nikolova, D., Gluud, L., Simonetti, R. and Gluud, C., 2007. Mortality in Randomized Trials of Antioxidant Supplements for Primary and Secondary Prevention. JAMA, 297(8), p.842.

2) Reynolds, A., Mann, J., Cummings, J., Winter, N., Mete, E. and Te Morenga, L., 2019. Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The Lancet, 393(10170), pp.434-445.

3) Abs.gov.au. 2020. 4364.0.55.012 – Australian Health Survey: Consumption Of Food Groups From The Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2011-12. [online] Available at: <https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/39433889d406eeb9ca2570610019e9a5/4e7af9757b845128ca257faf001a3be4!OpenDocument> [Accessed 23 April 2020].

4) James-Martin, G., Williams, G. and Stonehouse, W., 2016. Translating The Scientific Evidence For Apples And Pears Into Health Messages.

5) Koutsos, A., Tuohy, K. and Lovegrove, J., 2015. Apples and Cardiovascular Health—Is the Gut Microbiota a Core Consideration?. Nutrients, 7(6), pp.3959-3998.

6) Brouns, F., Theuwissen, E., Adam, A., Bell, M., Berger, A. and Mensink, R., 2011. Cholesterol-lowering properties of different pectin types in mildly hyper-cholesterolemic men and women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66(5), pp.591-599.

7) Brown, L., Rosner, B., Willett, W. and Sacks, F., 1999. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fibre: a meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 69(1), pp.30-42.

8) Yoshihiro, K. and Matsumoto, C., 2017. Hypertension Is a Risk Factor for Several Types of Heart Disease: Review of Prospective Studies. Advances in experimental medicine and biology, 956, pp.419-426.

9) Jackson, C., Dreaden, T., Theobald, L., Tran, N., Beal, T., Eid, M., Gao, M., Shirley, R., Stoffel, M., Kumar, M. and Mohnen, D., 2007. Pectin induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells: correlation of apoptotic function with pectin structure. Glycobiology, 17(8), pp.805-819.

10) Glycemic Index Foundation. 2020. Australian Apples – Glycemic Index Foundation. [online] Available at: <https://www.gisymbol.com/product/australian-apples/> [Accessed 23 April 2020].

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