Apples play a big role in our holiday traditions: apple pie, hot apple cider, apple pomanders stuffed with cloves. Santa’s gift of an apple (or an orange) in our grandkids’ stockings. On Hanukkah, we serve applesauce with potato latkes, and in China, people give each other apples on Christmas Eve.
Why Apples Are So Good for Older Adults
Happily, apples are one of those delicious foods that also happen to be very good for us, especially as we get older. What makes them so nutritious?
1. Apples have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Apples contain numerous polyphenols (aka micronutrients) including quercetin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In a study published in the Nutrition Journal, apples were linked with a reduced risk of chronic conditions that commonly impact older adults including heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and type 2 diabetes.
2. Apples reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
3. Apples are rich in pectin.
A medium apple contains about four grams of pectin, which can help control your blood sugar levels, manage your weight and prevent constipation. Apples are also celebrated for their fiber content.
How to Incorporate Apples Into Your Diet
There’s a wonderful range of flavors and textures in apples. When choosing them, decide if you prefer them sweet or tart and whether you plan to use them for baking or eating fresh. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp apples reveal their sweetness in their names, while Granny Smith and Fuji apples are more tart. Choose firm apples such as Cortland or Jonagold for cooking. Softer apples such as Macintosh will lose their texture.
Add chopped apples to your turkey stuffing, or braise them with red cabbage as a holiday side dish. Give salads a holiday flair by adding chopped apples, dried cranberries and walnuts to your greens. And of course, make apple pie!
We like to use at least three types of apples to give pie a variety of flavors and textures; try a balance of hard and soft apples. Also, don’t peel the cooking apples beforehand. Most of the quercetin in apples is concentrated in the skin, so leave the skin on when incorporating apples into your pies and other recipes.
Finally, we all know that unhealthy snacks abound this time of year, so leave a bowl of apples out on the kitchen table. If they’re in plain sight, you’re more likely to grab one (instead of a cookie) as you’re running out the door to tackle your holiday shopping.