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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

October is Apple Picking Season in Wisconsin!

Submitted by Bernie Allen, ADRC Nutrition Program Coordinator

Health Benefits of an Apple

Apples are not just crunchy, sweet and satisfying. As part of a smart diet, they can help protect against serious diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more. Consider them your healthy secret weapon. Studies show apples have powerful health benefits, particularly when it comes to fighting chronic diseases. Here's a short list of how eating more apples can help keep you healthy.


1. Protects Your Heart

Multiple studies show apples are good for your heart, in multiple ways. Their high fiber content has been shown to help improve cholesterol levels (lowering bad LDL cholesterol and increasing good HDL cholesterol), according to researchers from Florida State University. A review of data from three major studies also found that people who ate whole fruits, including apples, were less likely to develop high blood pressure. A Women's Health Study showed that women who ate apples over the seven-year study period had up to a 22 percent reduced risk of heart disease.


2. Boosts Brain Health

A group of four large studies presented at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference in 2017 adds to the evidence that eating a plant-based diet may help prevent dementia. In one of the studies, Swedish researchers following 2,000 people for six years found that those who stuck to a diet called the Nordic Prudent Dietary Pattern (NPDP) had better cognitive function than people who ate more fatty, processed foods. Among other things, the NPDP calls for eating plenty of non-root vegetables, plus pears, peaches and apples.


3. Helps You Lose Weight

One medium apple can help fill you up for under 100 calories, so it's no surprise that apples can help with weight loss. Turns out it's what form of apple you eat that counts. In one study, people who ate apple slices before a meal felt fuller and more satisfied than people who had applesauce, apple juice or no apples at all. The same study also found that starting a meal with apple slices helped people eat an average of 200 fewer calories compared to those who skipped the apple slices.


4. Lowers Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

In a study of more than 38,000 healthy women, those who ate one or more apples a day had a 28 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than the non-apple eaters. In a review of data from more than 187,000 people involved in three long-term studies, Harvard researchers found that people who ate at least two servings a week of blueberries, grapes and apples lowered their diabetes risk by 23 percent, compared to people who had one serving or less a month. Experts say the fruit's fiber helps stabilize blood sugar.


5. Fights Cancer

Apples rank second only to berries in antioxidants, making them superheroes when it comes to fighting cancer. In fact, an analysis of several Italian studies found that eating one or more servings of apples a day helped lower the risk of colorectal cancer more than eating any other fruit. Other studies in humans have found that eating apples can be helpful in preventing lung and prostate cancer. Don't toss the peel, though-that's where most of the cancer-fighting antioxidants are found.


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HEALTHY APPLE MUFFINS



Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup applesauce

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup milk (or unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups apples thinly sliced and then chopped into small pieces (about two apples)

Streusel Topping (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. In a bowl, mix together applesauce, oil, maple syrup, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, Greek yogurt and milk.

  3. Once these items are combined, add the 2 cups of whole wheat flour (add half cup at a time until just mixed), cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

  4. Gently fold in apples with a spatula.

  5. Optional: Mix together streusel topping ingredients.

  6. Add muffin lines to a muffin tray. Spray with cooking spray. These muffins rise high, and the edges can stick if you don’t spray the entire tin.

  7. Scoop the muffin batter into 12 muffin cups.

  8. Add the streusel topping to each muffin.

  9. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 for 14 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). ***These muffins will rise high during the baking process.

  10. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack. Enjoy




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