The humble apple. It may not be the trendiest of foods, but this fruit bowl staple has so many health benefits.
Many of these benefits are due to the high polyphenol content (polyphenols are compounds produced by plants, many of which have health benefits and act as antioxidants). Organic apples have been seen to have a higher total phenolic content than non-organic so, if your budget allows, it’s worth buying organic.
The phenolic compounds in apples are associated with reducing the risk of many chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect, protecting the intestinal tissue from inflammatory damage. Studies have seen that a marker of inflammation (Serum C-Reactive Protein CRP) has an inverse relationship with apple intake.
Apples help to alter the mix of bacteria in your gut, increasing the more beneficial species and reducing the less beneficial ones. The term ‘dysbiosis’ refers to an imbalance of our gut bacteria, so apple consumption may help to correct this. Having the correct balance of bacterial species can impact many aspects of health including digestive symptoms, mood, immunity and weight management.
Apples have been seen to alter bacterial gene expression in favour of a species (Bacteroidetes) found in abundance in normal weight individuals and deficient in obese individuals is favoured, thus aiding weight management.
Want to power-up these benefits even more? Stewing apples increases the levels of pectin (a soluble fibre). Pectin can heal and maintain the lining of our gut. A healthy gut lining is important in reducing inflammation and food sensitivities.
Stewed apples are often recommended for people suffering with inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis. I add cinnamon to my stewed apples, it also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to balance blood sugar levels (and also makes them taste nice!).
Roughly peel (or leave the peel on if you want more fibre) and chop cooking apples. Put them in a saucepan and cook on a low heat with the lid on. Add a little water to prevent them from sticking. They will soon cook down. I add either cinnamon or blackberries.
Enjoy for breakfast, a snack or dessert with some Greek/natural yogurt.