Hey, Doc! How do you like them apples?

Bavaria is an apple-lovers paradise --munichFOTOAlthough apples have been cultivated, consumed, and valued by people for thousands of years, it currently seems that this sweet fruit has been pushed out of the spotlight by fancier, so-called "superfruits" like the açaí berry or the goji berry. However, it is important to know that the apple still deserves our full attention and our appetite - not only because of its delicious flavor and culinary versatility, but also because of its wide array of health-promoting properties. We all know the saying - an apple a day keeps the doctor away! While apples should not be considered a panacea that is capable of miraculously curing diseases, making them a regular part of your diet can still prove to be very beneficial to your health. So, unless you happen to be called Snow White and are offered an apple by a shady old lady (or by a talking snake, for those of you who are named Adam or Eve), feel free to take a bite of this crisp, delicious fruit. As often as you can. Here's why:

Not only are they very low in calories and fat (a medium-sized apple contains approximately 95 calories and 0,5g fat), but they are also bursting with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that are vital to keeping your body healthy. For example, apples are packed with antioxidants like Vitamin A and Vitamin C which are known to neutralize free radicals and to be beneficial to your heart, your immune system, and your skin. Other vitamins like folic acid (Vitamin B9, essential for the production of red blood cells) and minerals such as potassium (important for the heart and other vital organs) and calcium (necessary for healthy bones and teeth, may prevent osteoporosis) are also found in apples. Furthermore, studies have indicated that the flavonoids and polyphenols found in apples may also have protective effects against cardiovascular disease and cancer. As most of these nutrients are located right beneath the apple's peel, it should not be peeled prior to consumption. Apples also contain a good amount of pectin, a soluble fiber which may help lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood-sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar in the colon, thus aiding in the prevention of diabetes. Pectin also has a positive effect on digestion which is why grated apples are often used as a home remedy against diarrhea. But this is not the only way in which apples can work as a home remedy. If you feel nervous and need something to calm you down, make yourself a cup of simple apple tea by slicing an apple, mixing it with boiling water, and letting it steep for two hours.

One of the many other things that apples can be used for is the production of apple cider vinegar which, apart from being an ingredient in vinaigrettes, also has a few health benefits. Thanks to the process of fermentation, apple cider vinegar actually contains a few additional nutrients which are not found in fresh apples, like tannins and certain enzymes. Due to its antibacterial properties, it serves as a great and natural remedy for a sore throat when it is mixed with honey and a glass of hot water. This health tonic can also be consumed if you suffer from indigestion (in this case, drink it 30 minutes before you have your meal) or constipation and bloating. Last but not least, an important thing to note is that you should always buy apple cider vinegar at health food stores since a lot of the apple cider vinegars which are sold at grocery stores are not made out of whole apples, but instead merely out of apple "leftovers" (such as seeds, peels and stems) and therefore they do not contain as many valuable nutrients as real apple cider vinegar.


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