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Wednesday 10 October 2012

Apples: Do they really keep the DR away?

Chances are, you've only tasted a few of the many varieties of apples because supermarkets offer a small selection that typically includes Gala, Cortland, Granny Smith, McIntosh, and the most popular -- Red Delicious. Regardless of the type, apples are a perfect addition to your weight-loss plan for a number of reasons.

Apples are low in calories and fat, low in sodium, and contain vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. These can all help you to lose weight in different ways. The fiber helps you feel full longer because it expands in your stomach so it takes less food to satisfy your hunger. Apples are a low-sodium food that can be a good addition to a healthy diet. Keeping your sodium low will help prevent excess water weight, or retention. And, the vitamins benefit you by increasing health and vitality. Of course, being active helps burn extra calories to speed up weight loss.

It turns out the simple apple is a jewel when it comes to healthy eating. There are even enzymes found in apples that might help your body digest food more efficiently. Learn more about this valuable fruit and how to get the most from it.

Health Benefits

Even though it's not bursting with nutrients like some of the other fruits, an apple a day may do more than keep the doctor away. For starters, apples are a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant, and research has shown that antioxidants help prevent heart disease and the formation of some cancers. They have heart-healthy effects, too -- apples are loaded with pectin, which may help keep blood cholesterol levels in check. When it dissolves in water, soluble fiber creates a gummy, gel-like substance that binds bile acids and draws cholesterol out of the bloodstream. Soluble fiber's stickiness also slows the absorption of carbohydrates, keeping blood sugar levels on an even keel. And apples may contribute to a healthy smile and fresh breath by stimulating your gums and promoting saliva production.

Selection and Storage

A few varieties, like Cortland, Jonathan, and Winesap, are all-purpose apples. But in general, choose apples for their intended purpose. For baking, try Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Cortland, Northern Spy, or Rhode Island Greening; they deliver flavor and keep their shape when cooked. For just plain eating, you can't beat tart Macouns or award-winning Empires and Galas. If possible, buy apples from an orchard. Apples prefer humid air, so the crisper drawer of the refrigerator is the best place to store them. Some varieties will keep until spring, though most get mealy in a month or two. Golden Delicious apples must be enjoyed right away before their skins shrivel.

Preparation and Serving Tips

Always wash and scrub your apples. Supermarket apples are often waxed, which seals in pesticide residues that may be on the skins. Peeling apples will remove the film but also a lot of the fiber. All apples will brown when cut, but the rate varies among varieties. To prevent browning, sprinkle a little lemon juice on cut surfaces. Enjoying a fiber-packed apple, especially before a meal, is a good way to curb your appetite. It's also a great low-fat snack when you're on the run.

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