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Aveen Bannon

This November, make a date with apples!

Winter is here, and as the days get shorter, our minds turn to warm soups, comfort foods and wrapping up indoors. There’s nothing wrong with indulging a little in the run-up to the holiday season, but we should aim for a few healthy habits too to ensure our body gets all the nutrition it needs to fight off colds and flu. Early nights and brisk winter walks are a few of the healthy habits we want to incorporate, but don’t forget to eat lots of colour too! As there can be less colourful seasonal fruits in winter, it is important that our fruit intake doesn’t drop. Apples are tasty winter fruits that can adapt to sweet and savoury dishes and are popular choices with kids.

Apples are packed with B vitamins Riboflavin, Thiamin, and Vitamin B-6. These vitamins are essential for a healthy heart and nervous system, are great for digestion, and also provide energy. Apples also contain vitamin C, but one of their great qualities is their fibre content.

A diet high in fibre has been linked to preventing the development of certain diseases and has been said to help reduce “bad” cholesterol in the blood. Fibre is like a natural sweeping brush for the gut. Containing no calories, it slows down the absorption of sugar and fats in the blood, helping to regulate blood sugar levels. High fibre snacks also help you feel fuller for longer, and therefore, apples can contribute to healthy weight maintenance. For maximum fibre, it is best to eat them whole and include the skins!

Additionally, apples are high in fructose (a natural sugar found in fruits); therefore, they are energy-dense. For this reason, they are a great snack in the afternoon if you are feeling the day is dragging and need a pick-me-up to get to the end of the day. (Some even find that eating an apple will give more energy than a cup of black coffee!)

One study looked into the effects of eating different forms of apple on satiety. It found that those who ate a whole apple with lunch reduced their calorie intake by 15%! If including in a lunchbox, you can cut the apple into wedges and piece the apple together again so it looks whole. Then wrap a hair-bobbin around the apple to hold it together. The inner flesh of Apples turns brown once sliced and exposed to air, but this process is an easy way to prevent browning and makes it easier for kids to snack on.

Apart from snacks, apples can be enjoyed in many ways! Apples are great in salads, roasted with pork, sautéed with onions and/or cabbage, baked with butternut squash or sweet potatoes, roasted with bacon and root vegetables, or pureed and used as an apple sauce on porridge or natural yoghurt. Why not try hot apple juice as a winter warming drink?

So, with winter upon us, make a date with apples this November. Incorporating apples into your diet can do some great things. All of the wonderful nutrients can help to ward off infection and keep you energised, not to mention the wonders they can do for your digestion! A great snack for kids and adults alike, in the lunchbox, with your breakfast, in a salad, or as a snack in the evening — there are so many delicious ways to enjoy apples!