Week 35: Apples
In the northern hemisphere, apple season begins at the end of summer and lasts until early winter. Apples available at other times have been in cold storage or are imported from the southern hemisphere.
The apple is a member of the Rose family, which may seem strange until we remember that roses make rose hips, which are fruits similar to the apple.
Whole apples are a much better nutritional choice than apple sauce and apple juice. There is an important loss of nutrients and dietary fiber that occurs when apples are processed.
When an apple is sliced through, its cells become physically damaged. The polyphenols in the apple begin to oxidize and as a result you see browning of the damaged apple portion. It is important to handle apples delicately in order to protect their health-supportive polyphenols.
Nutrient Profile: Apple polyphenols are standout nutrients in this widely loved fruit. Apples are a good source of fiber, including both soluble and insoluble pectins, and they are also a good source of vitamin C. Apple nutrients are disproportionately present in the skin, which is a particularly valuable part of the fruit with respect to its nutrient content.
Antioxidant benefits: Most of the polyphenols in apples function as antioxidants. They help decrease oxidation of cell membrane fats (lipid peroxidation). This is most beneficial in our cardiovascular system where the cells that line our blood vessels are a primary risk factor for clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and other cardiovascular problems.
Cardiovascular benefits: These benefits are due to apple’s water-soluble fiber (pectin) content, and their unusual mix of polyphenols. Total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) are both decreased through regular intake of apples (1/day). In addition, the polyphenol benefit of decreasing lipid peroxidation may lower many chronic heart problems. The quercetin content of apples also provides our cardiovascular system with anti-inflammatory benefits.
Blood Sugar regulation: At many different levels, the polyphenols in apples are influencing our digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, and the overall impact of these changes is to improve regulation of our blood sugar.
Anti-Cancer benefits: Studies have shown lung cancer risk reduction primarily through the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions.
Anti-Asthma benefits: Associated with apple’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Selection and Storage: Apples have a moderately sweet, refreshing flavor and a tartness that is present to a greater or lesser degree depending on the variety. Tart apples, which best retain their texture during cooking, are often preferred for cooked desserts like apple pie, while sweeter varieties like Braeburn and Fuji apples are usually eaten raw.
Apples can be stored for relatively long (3-4 months) periods of time. Cold storage at low refrigerator temperatures (35-40F/2-4C) is able to help minimize loss of nutrients.
"One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch." When an apple has been bruised from being dropped (or has been damaged in some other way) it will start to release unusual amounts of ethylene gas. This gas can pose a risk to other apples that have not been damaged resulting in a decrease to their shelf life. For this reason, it is important to handle apples with tender loving care, and also to remove any damaged apples from groups of apples stored in bulk.
The skin of the apple is unusually rich in nutrients. Choose organic apples to avoid problems related to pesticide residues and other contaminants on the skins.
To prevent browning when slicing apples for a recipe, simply put the slices in a bowl of cold water and add a spoonful of lemon juice.
Concerns: Pesticides: According to the Environmental Working Group's 2019 report "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides," conventionally grown apples are among the top 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of apples unless they are grown organically.
Waxes: If you do purchase non-organic apples, there may be a wax applied to the apple which is used to protect the apple’s surface during storage and shipping. Carnauba wax, beeswax, and shellac are preferable to petroleum-based waxes, which contain solvent residues or wood resins.
This recipe for Apple-Cranberry Galette is super easy to prepare and very tasty.