I consider apples to be the “unsung” heroes of the superfood world, especially when it comes to heart health. Apples contain a variety of phytochemicals, including quercetin (improving cardiovascular health, reducing risk for cancer, and protecting against osteoporosis), catechin (great to zap fat cells), phloridzin (may reduce metabolic syndrome and your chance of getting diabetes) and chlorogenic acid (antitumor, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent), all of which are potent antioxidants. But most of the positive research states that the health benefits of apples lie in their skin.
Red Delicious apples that look beautiful to eat but have little in the way of flavor and are typically mushy in texture. They were engineered more for looks and their long shelf life more than anything else! Heirloom varieties and cool new varietals are becoming more popular that ever since their taste and texture are far superior and perfect for the healthy foodie in hunt of something new. If you like a sweet slightly tart apple then the Ruby Frost apple is for you pictured above. I’ve used it to create this delectable cinnamon slow cooker apple wedges you’ll see below.
Shopping, Storing, Cooking and Nutrition
Storing apples in a fridge or cold cellar does not damage apple phytochemicals, but processing can greatly affect apple phytochemicals, depleting or destroying them. So to reap the benefits apples have to offer, go for the fresh fruit. Apples keep well (around three weeks) in your crisper drawer and since they have a firm skin they even keep well without a produce bag, although I store mine in bags to prevent moisture loss. Cooking can kill nutrients if you cook apples too long or at temperatures that are too high. For skillet or pan cooking, cook no more than 5 minutes over a high flame. For baking, limit it to 350°F at 30 minutes and 400°F at 15 minutes to ensure antioxidants stay intact.
Think Out of the Lunch Box
Apples aren’t just for lunch boxes, their sweet tart flavor make them an excellent ingredient to pair with a multitude of flavors from sweet, rich, salty and even spicy foods. Apples pair well with chocolate, oranges, prunes, raisins, bacon, chicken, pork, cheese, caramelized onions, hot chilies, ground chili powder, and even spicy salsa.
Slow Cooker Cinnamon Apple Slices
This apple sauce recipe leaves the health promoting skin on and saves you time on prep. If you’re not a fan of raisins, used dried cherries instead.
1 pound Ruby Frost apples
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup raisins, cranberries, or dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Core and thinly slice apples. Place them in a slow cooker along with the vinegar, honey, raisins, cinnamon, and cardamom. Stir and set on low. Cook 4 to 5 hours or until the apples are tender. Serve warm or transfer to an air-tight container and chill until ready to serve.