As days grow shorter, summer fruits fade and leaves drop from trees, autumn delivers a sweet compensation.
Crispy, juicy apples deliver excellent nutrition wrapped in an a-peeling package, says Kristi Veltkamp, MS, RD, a Spectrum Health dietitian.
She encourages folks to embrace the season by buying—or picking—apples from a local market or orchard.
“They are so fresh right now,” she said. “When you get fruit that’s fresh and local, it hasn’t traveled across the country or across the globe. They are higher in nutrients, lower in cost and have better flavor.”
Most of apples’ healthy goodness lies in the peel.
“That’s where all the fiber is,” Veltkamp said. “And the majority of the vitamin C and nutrients are there.”
A large apple has 5 grams of fiber. That’s a good chunk toward the recommended 25 grams a day for women and 38 for men.
Fiber helps keep the colon healthy and promotes gut flora, which boosts the immune system.
It aids heart health. It binds with cholesterol to prevent it from being absorbed.
And when gut bacteria ferment fiber in the colon, they produce short chain fatty acids that help in colon health and colorectal cancer prevention and can positively influence cholesterol levels.
The fiber in apples can help with weight control, Veltkamp said. It slows the emptying of the stomach, which helps you feel full longer.
Apples also pack a good dose of antioxidants, vitamin C and phytonutrients, which help reduce inflammation. Research shows that can help with brain health, cancer prevention and managing lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
Apples get extra points for convenience, Veltkamp added. They keep well in the refrigerator and they transport well, making them an easy choice to pack for lunch or a snack.
For those looking for ways to add more apples to their diet, she suggests three options:
- On a cheese-and-cracker tray, swap apple slices for the crackers. A tart crunch of an apple complements cheese well.
- When you make baked apples, fill the hollowed-out apple core with peanut butter or almond butter. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.
- Apple nachos: Spread apple slices—instead of tortilla chips—on a plate and drizzle them with melted peanut butter. You could also sprinkle a few dark chocolate chips and nuts on top and heat the dish in the oven or microwave until the chocolate melts.