A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

‘Tis the season for an apple a day

Apple-Cinnamon Quinoa Bowl, recipe

Apples are extremely rich in phytochemicals and along with fiber in general they may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

If you’ve ever wondered if this bit of folk wisdom is true, well, they may not always keep the doctor away but apples do have health benefits.

According to Marshfield Clinic Health System Dietitian Chrisanne Urban, generations of people have heard that familiar phrase since it came to be at the end of the 19th century. It’s said, she added, that the original wording was “eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

Urban grew up in Michigan’s apple country so she knows apples and how much nutrition they add to your overall diet.

Call them super-nutritious

Apples are packed with nutrition and are more nutritious when eaten fresh vs. cooked, like applesauce. They’re extremely rich in phytochemicals and along with fiber in general they may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

A medium apple has about 100 calories and is a great source of vitamin C with 14 percent of your Recommended Dietary Intake of this vitamin. A medium apple also has 4 grams of dietary fiber, including its peel. Some people can’t tolerate the fiber so Urban recommends following your specific dietary recommendations.

Research shows their benefits

There is no miracle food,” Urban said, “but an apple a day is good. Any time you can eat fresh produce is good. Apples rank second to berries in fighting cancer, lung, prostate and colorectal cancer and research is overwhelming when it comes to the importance of apples.”

Urban found a Harvard University long-term study of 187,000 participants, with one group eating two servings a week of blueberries, grapes or apples; and the other group eating fruit once a month. Those eating more fruit had decreased risk of diabetes compared to the second group.

“If you eat two servings a week – a cup or a whole apple – that risk is decreased 23 percent,” Urban said.

Another study looked at people who consumed apple slices vs. applesauce or juice before a meal. Those who ate apples felt fuller and consumed 200 calories less than those who ate applesauce. “This is a great example of apples being a great source of fiber to help make you fuller,” she said.

And, another ongoing women’s health study with 38,000 participants showed participants who had one apple per day had a 28 percent decrease of type 2 diabetes.

Well-balanced diet is key

“It’s recommended that you eat an apple and especially its peel, along with other fruits and vegetables, as part of a well-balanced, healthy diet,” Urban said. “Besides what you eat, it’s also important to maintain body movement. So find an orchard and go pick apples especially during this time of year when they’re bountiful.”

As a tribute to apple season, try this simple hearty recipe to start your day with apples.

Apple-Cinnamon Quinoa Bowl

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2/3 cup diced apple, divided
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey

Instructions

Combine milk, 1/2 cup apple, quinoa and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on very low heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.

Let stand 5 minutes.

Top with the remaining 1/3 cup apple, almonds and honey.

Nutrition information

Each serving contains 307 calories; 48 g carbohydrates; 7 g fat: 18 g protein; 1 mg sodium.

Source: Recipe modified from EatingWell.com.

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