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Making Good Health Simple: An apple a day – does it really make a difference?

Crystal Reynolds

Tuesday 03 Sep. 2019

An apple a day? A little overzealous – daunting even. What about an apple every other day? Possibly once a week? Definitely more doable. In New England we have a crazy fixation with apples. For as long as I can remember, apple season was a thing. Going to the apple orchard as a child was a huge event. We all had our marching orders, which included selecting very specific apples for very specific purposes. Certain apples for lunchboxes, different ones for apple pie but not to be confused with the apple crisp or applesauce apples. We literally spent hours there while we obsessed over which apple to pick. And then there was the yelling. We unequivocally got yelled at by my parents for climbing the trees and yelled at for throwing partially rotted apples plucked from the ground at each other.

So does eating an apple a day really make a difference? Or, did someone’s mom just try to scare their kid into eating a daily dose of apples? To test this urban legend, the JAMA Internal Medicine conducted a study on the “Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits: Appealing the Conventional Wisdom That an Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” The study concludes that although evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away completely, the majority of U.S. adults who eat an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription medications.

If that doesn’t convince you of the health benefits of apples, maybe the complete genome will. In 2010, a major scientific milestone was achieved for tree fruit crops: publication of the first draft whole genome sequence for Malus domestica (the scientific name for apples). This discovery allows scientists to explore the direct health benefits from this delicious fruit.

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, apples contain many essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. They are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. Antioxidants, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and a few vitamin B (niacin, vitamin B6) are responsible for the long list of health benefits attributed to apples. Other important nutrients in apples include calcium, vitamin K, iron, copper, phosphorus and magnesium. They are also packed with phytonutrients and flavonoids. Have no idea what this means? Don’t worry. These are just fancy words backing up the health benefits of apples.

Apples are fun to pick, healthy and delicious, but in order to eat them in high frequency, you must know how to cook with them. Below is one of my favorite recipes that combines the sweetness of apples with the deliciousness of pancakes. These pancakes cook up nice and fluffy and this recipe is perfect for brunching.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes are easily mixed and ready with the use of a blender.

Apple Oatmeal Pancakes

  • 2 cups rolled oats, regular or gluten-free
  • 1 egg or flax egg
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1 apple – I always use Fuji
  • 1/2 T cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder (Make sure it is not expired)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (This adds some extra fluff to your pancakes by reacting with the milk and other ingredients)
  • 1 T pure maple syrup
  • 1 T oil (canola or melted coconut oil)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

In a food processor or high-powered blender, process the oats until a flour consistency.

Transfer flour to a mixing bowl.

In a blender, add all other ingredients and blend until smooth and combined.

Add the flour to the mixture and pulse or mix to combine. (You don’t have to use the blender for this, you could also pour the mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir to combine!)

Pour desired amount for each pancake over a griddle or pan at about medium to medium-high heat.

Heat until bubbles form all around the edges of the pancakes and then flip.

Cook to desired golden brown.

Vegan? Use a flax egg in place of the regular egg by whisking together one tablespoon of flax meal with three tablespoons of water. Chill in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes so it becomes gel-like. Use plant-based milk and then you will have yourself a vegan stack of apple oat pancakes.

Recipes seems like too much work? Are you kitchen challenged? Here are some alternatives to cooking apples. You just need a cutting board, knife, serving tray and a spoon. Thinly slice apples and make apple stackers. My teenage kids still love this. We call it smorgasbord style and serve them on cafeteria trays. Cut up different types of apples and throw in some assorted toppings. Try sliced or cubed cheese, peanut/almond butter, honey and if you’re daring, caramel.

No matter which way you slice it, organic, pesticide-free apples should be added to your current food plan.

(Crystal Reynolds is an owner at 43 Degrees North Athletic Club.)

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