It is well known that eating a healthy, balanced diet does wonders for your health. Diets rich in fruit and vegetables have been linked with lower cholesterol, reduced obesity and less risk of developing Type II diabetes and coronary heart disease. The US National Cancer Institute has even estimated that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables could prevent up to 30% of cancers. With the rise of the ‘superfood’ era, its is recognised that some foods may contain nutritional benefits above and beyond those of other ‘less-than-super-foods’. Kale, acai berries, blueberries and green tea are all heralded as being nutritional gods, but this can undermine the benefits we can gain from much more easily accessible foods which can be incorporated into our everyday diets for a fraction of the cost.
Since getting involved with the Great British Apples #GoodnessToGo campaign, I’ve been checking out the benefits of regular british apple consumption and there is so much about these little red and green powerhouses that I didn’t know!
First of all, apples are a significant source of flavonoids. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. They have also been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, regulate inflammation and immune responses and protect against cell damage. Consumption of foods high in flavonoids have been linked with reduced mortality and a reduction of the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 35%. It is the high flavonoid content which has been suggested to be responsible for the protective effects of regular apple consumption against lung cancer.
Try topping your smoothies with chunks of apple to get an extra dose of vitamins!
Apples are also a great source of antioxidants and score highly in terms of antioxidant capability in comparison to other commonly consumed fruits such as strawberries, lemons, bananas and grapefruit. It has also been found that apples have a higher proportion of ‘free phenolics’ than other fruits which means the antioxidant molecules they contain are more easily accessible and therefore more likely to be absorbed into the blood stream. Antioxidants inhibit the ‘oxidation’ if other molecules which can cause cell damage and has been linked to a wide range of diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, Type II diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis .
Interestingly, apple peel has been shown to have even greater nutritional benefits than the fleshy part. Quercetin (a flavonoid found in lots of fruit and vegetables) is present in much higher quantities in the peel than in the flesh and some apple varieties have been sound to have up to 6 times more of the substance in their skin. Because of this, apple peel may have higher antioxidant activity than the flesh and may therefore present a greater protective effect against oxidative stress. So, you might want to think again before getting that peeler out next time!
The UK is home to a range of different apple varieties. From sweet and juicy Jazz to crisp and sweet Braeburn, I am always overwhelmed by the choice on offer. What’s more, they’re just so versatile! Crunched into on the go, lovingly chopped up and packed into a lunchbox or patiently baked for hours under a sweet, heavy crumble, there is no form of apple-based consumption that isn’t enjoyable. Featured below are some of my favourites!
- Apple Pie Oatmeal
For a quick and super nutritious start to the day, I add half a chopped apple and a teaspoon of cinnamon to my standard oatmeal recipe. Topped with more apple and a dollop of cranberry compote for an extra hit of antioxidants, this breakfast never lets me down.
- Apple Pie Pancakes
This perfect weekend breakfast takes the humble apple from an on-the-go snack to the star of the show!
– 1 cup buckwheat flour
– 1 tbsp baking powder
– 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– 1 small British apple, finely chopped or grated
– 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 cup almond mylk
– Pinch salt
- Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well
- Pour approximately 2 tbsp of the batter for each pancake into a large non-stick frying pan and cook over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until bubbles start to form in the centre of the pancake
- Flip and cook for a further 1-2 minutes
- Top with chunks of cinnamon-y apple, granola and dairy-free yoghurt
- Apple & Cinnamon Muffins (recipe by The Minimalist Baker)
These always go down well. Light, moist and fully of flavour, they’re the perfect autumn (or, lets be honest, spring, summer or winter) treat! Find the recipe over on The Minimalist Baker’s blog.
- Nut Butter-Dipped Apples
This works so well. Something about the sweetness of the apples and the saltiness of the nut butter makes this my go-to snack (not to mention that a healthy dose of nut butter in the afternoon does wonders for lifting my mood!). Peanut and pecan butters are my favourites at the moment but almond butter, cashew butter and even hummus works brilliantly too!
- The classic, naked apple
No on-the-go snack will satisfy me more than a trusty British apple. Picked up from basically any supermarket, corner shop, train station, friend’s house etc., the apple is ready to give me everything I need with no preparation, unwrapping, peeling or faffing necessary. Plus, there is the added bonus of 0% waste (apart from the core and pips of course, but they’re all biodegradable so there is no need to worry about them clogging up landfill or ending up in the oceans like crisp packets, juice cartons and chocolate bar wrappers do).
To summarise, the Great British Apple is, in my opinion, the unsung hero of snacks. Full of antioxidants and chemicals that can protect us against a whole host of diseases, these convenient and delicious handfuls of joy need to be piled high in our fruit bowls and bouncing along inside our school bags ready to save the day when hunger (inevitably for a greedy food-nut like me) strikes.
 Agostinho, P., A Cunha, R., & Oliveira, C. (2010). Neuroinflammation, oxidative stress and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Current pharmaceutical design, 16(25), 2766-2778.
 Tak, P. P., Zvaifler, N. J., Green, D. R., & Firestein, G. S. (2000). Rheumatoid arthritis and p53: how oxidative stress might alter the course of inflammatory diseases. Immunology today, 21(2), 78-82.
 Denis, M. C., Furtos, A., Dudonne, S., Montoudis, A., Garofalo, C., Desjardins, Y., … & Levy, E. (2013). Apple peel polyphenols and their beneficial actions on oxidative stress and inflammation. PLoS One, 8(1), e53725.