**Disclaimer: the content below is for information only. Please make sure to contact your general practitioner if you are worried about your health or are planning to change your diet.**
Do you know the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, there is some truth in this old saying as the humble apple has a number of health benefits.
Apples play an essential role in both digestion and detoxification.
Digestion: Rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre, apples help food to progress at a healthy pace through the digestive system. They can also alleviate constipation. Constipation prevents your body from getting rid of waste matter, which is then left to ferment in your intestines or colon. This can, in turn, lead to various problems, from haemorrhoids to colon cancer.
Detoxification: The same fibres also pick up toxic waste (heavy metals, cholesterol, etc.) which are then excreted thanks to the soluble fibre, pectin.
Pectin can also affect the speed of digestion, depending on the body’s need. It can help alleviate diarrhoea, which causes food to leave the body too quickly, before vitamins and nutrients can be absorbed, and also causes the body to become quickly dehydrated.
And if the above wasn’t good enough, antioxidants in the skin of apples (quercetin, epicatechin and procyanadin) also slow the rise of blood sugar, help improve lung function, reduce the risk of several cancer as well as protect the brain from damages caused by conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Quercetin is also anti-inflammatory, helping in the treatment of arthritis, allergic reactions and sun damage to the skin.
The vitamin C content of apples boosts immunity, whilst their high water content re-hydrates the body.
Recipe to share: Baked apples
55g unsalted butter
4 tsp sugar
4 tsp flaked almonds
2 cooking apples, peeled and cored
Fromage frais, or your favourite yogurt to serve.
Preheat oven at 180C (350F). Combine all ingredients, apart from the apples in a bowl. Divide the mixture in half and stuff each apple. Wrap the apples loosely in foil and bake for 20 minutes. Serve topped with fromage frais, or your favourite yogurt.
Cook’s note 1: I have written the recipe as I have found it originally (I copied it off a book a long time ago but I can’t remember which book!) However, I replace the butter and sugar with one tablespoon of pure maple syrup and it works beautifully. This substitution might be handy for Sparkfriends following a vegan diet.
If I decide to serve the apples with a dollop of yogurt, I choose soya yogurt and mix one tsp of good vanilla extract in it for flavour. Although, it has to be said that these baked apples are so lovely, my son and I often don’t bother with the yogurt and just dive in with big spoons!
Cook’s note 2: Even though the original recipe asks for the apples to be peeled, I rarely do as there is a lot of goodness in the apple skin. If you are worried about pollution from pesticide in the skin of the fruit, try and buy organic apples. If this is not possible, please wash your fruit thoroughly before using it.