Lighten Up: An apple a day

Cathleen Kronemer

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT

Now that the Jewish New Year is upon us, many households will be partaking of the traditional apples and honey as they share the holiday with family and friends. This traditional combination is meant to help usher in a sweet new year, while embracing the fruits of the fall harvest. It’s always around this time of year that I find myself becoming curious about Ben Franklin’s old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Does it really work?

While it is true that no single food can in fact hold every malady at bay, this autumn favorite does in fact pack a whopping amount of health benefits! Here are some of the more positive nutritional components found in apples:

• Pectin — Apples are an excellent source of pectin. This is a form of soluble fiber which has been shown to lower blood pressure as well as blood glucose levels.

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• Quercetin -Apples contain a compound called quercetin, a flavonoid which in laboratory studies has shown promise for reducing the risk of various cancers, as well as mitigating and neutralizing free radical damage. Free radicals develop when atoms in the body’s cells have unpaired electrons. If allowed to go unchecked, this situation has been implicated in a variety of age-related health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease.

• Vitamin C -Along with most other fruits, apples contain a good dose of Vitamin C, which helps to boost the body’s overall immune system.

• Phytonutrients — Apples are rich in a variety of phytonutrients, including vitamins A, E, and beta carotene. These compounds fight damage from free radicals and can have a profound effect on reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

Since apples are at their peak this time of year, they are readily available at grocery stores and produce markets for a very reasonable cost. As an added bonus, apples are low in calories!

As you celebrate the bounty of Rosh Hashanah this year, may you be blessed with sweetness as you dip into one of Mother Nature’s most healthful treats!

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.