A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An Apple a Day Keeps the Coffee Away?

Not that I have any resentment towards coffee, I have it almost everyday, but studies have shown that apples are better than coffee at waking us up in the morning. Of course, studies have shown a lot of things that aren’t actually true, so I decided to confirm this myself. The result? Sure enough, the apple appeased my appetite and kept me feeling more energized than coffee each morning. An added bonus is that apples help keep your mouth and breath clean, as opposed to the all too familiar coffee breath.

How are apples able to do this? The complex carbohydrates (sugars) present in apples provide a perk to your body by keeping it active digesting the complex carbs. While working to digest, your body will feel more awake. Another reason for the apple’s sprightly qualities is from the chewing motion of your jaw which aids in stimulating your brain. Coffee’s caffeine is a great stimulant, but is usually shorter lived than the effects of an apple.

So simple, yet so complex...
I have gone back to coffee (and coffee breath) since this short experiment, but apples remain a daily staple in my diet. With their aforementioned mouth cleaning qualities, I usually end my work lunches with an apple…..my co-workers thank me.

If you don’t want to give up coffee (I don’t blame you!), there are other ways and reasons to consume apples on a regular basis. Apples have a good amount of fiber which assists with digestion and prevents constipation. They are rich sources of iron, phosphorous, and potassium which helps treat those suffering from anemia, arthritis, and gout. The malic acid present in apples help to neutralize uric acid which relieves arthritis and gout. The acid content in apples also promotes the flow of saliva and acts as an antiseptic to germs in the mouth; this helps keep our traps fresh and clean.

For all you fruit and veggie skin haters out there, it is ill-advised to remove the skin from apples. Anthocyanins, pectin, quercetin, and other beneficial enzymes are found throughout the apple, and they are highly concentrated in the skin. These nutrients help regulate blood sugar by slowing sugar digestion to keep a steady level in the bloodstream. Total and LDL cholesterol are decreased from regular consumption of apples because of the pectin and polyphenols contained in apples. That being said, a whole apple is always a better choice than just apple juice or sauce.

To help soothe your stomach and please your taste buds, lightly mash whole apple slices and sprinkle with a little honey and cinnamon to eat before a meal. This will help stimulate slow digestive juices and facilitate the absorption of food.

Apples are great as a dessert for the sweet tooth, or as a savory addition to the main meal. With the unusually high level of nutrients found in the skin, it is recommended to leave the skin intact even if a recipe is calling for its removal.

Quick serving suggestions:
  • Slice and dice an apple and place the cubes in the freezer. Use to mix with yogurt or any type of milk along with granola or raw oats and some toasted nuts. Add a little honey and cinnamon for a great treat or breakfast.
  • Toss fresh diced or sliced apples with walnuts, goat or blue cheese, and arugula for a refreshing salad.
  • Core a medium apple, sprinkle with cinnamon, and stevia (sugar if you must). Place in a shallow, microwave safe dish and pour a little orange juice on top. Microwave for 2.5 minutes, flip over and microwave for another 30 seconds for a quick “baked” apple treat.
  • Combine sliced apples with low-fat cheddar and peanut butter. Sounds weird, but this is awesome.
  • Saute diced apple and serve on top of pancakes or waffles with some toasted almonds, cinnamon, and honey.  Alternatively, you could mix the diced apple in the batter.

For more detailed sweet and savory apple recipes, Eatingwell.com has plenty to offer.
Leave a comment and let me know how you get your apple a day…..or every other day or every week or if you get it at all!

A few apple fun facts:
- Red Delicious is the most popular and most-produced apple in the United States. Golden Delicious is the second most popular.
- The more apples a person eats, the lower his or her risk of developing lung cancer.
- The average person eats 65 apples per year.
- One medium apple contains about 80 calories.
- The apple is the official state fruit of Washington, New York, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
- There are more than 7500 varieties of apples grown in the world. About 2500 varieties are grown in the United States.

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