The “phyt-ing” apple

Phytonutrients and nutrition components of apples.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a saying that dates back to 1866 from a Welsh Folk Proverb, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” These sayings may hold true in a general manner of health. During apple season, apple trees work hard to hold up their limbs with phytonutrients

What are phytochemicals? This is a general term to help describe a variety of special compounds produced in plant foods. They can be found in fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. More common names include antioxidants, flavonoids and phytonutrients. What do they do for us? Michigan State University Extension says that research has shown that different phytochemicals provide many benefits within the body, including skin health, eye health and bone health.

Apples contain a variety of phytochemicals including polyphenols and flavonoids. Flavonoids play an important role in inhibiting certain enzymes that breakdown complex carbohydrates into simpler ones. This creates less simple sugar, present in your blood sugar. Polyphenols have been shown to decrease absorption of glucose from the digestive tract, stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin and increase the uptake of glucose from the blood. Both of these phytochemicals help to better regulate blood sugar.

Apples also contain a good source of dietary fiber which has been shown to be beneficial in cardiovascular health. Research shows that the whole apple contains not only the fiber but also the phytonutrients that interact with each other to give the best health outcome. Processing the apple decreases healthy interaction of fiber and phytonutrients.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend making half of your plate fruits and vegetables each meal. Apples can play an important part in a healthy diet. They come in many varieties and colors and can be used in many recipes. Below is a simple recipe that is great for lunches and snacks.

Crispy Apple Pie

1 apple cored and sliced with skin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions: Place sliced apple in a plastic bag and add cinnamon. Shake and enjoy.

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