It's always a little sad to see summer – and its bounty of nutritious berries, tomatoes, cucumbers and melons – come to an end. Luckily, the autumn harvest offers a variety of different, but equally nutritious, fruits and vegetables which are starting to make their seasonal appearance on produce stands and supermarket shelves.
Nothing says fall is on its way like fresh, crisp and flavorful apples. There are over a hundred varieties grown commercially in the United States and late August and early September start peak season.
There is merit to the old saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but did you know that this Foundation Food is also a bone builder?
An Apple a Day May Keep Osteoporosis Away
Recently, French researchers discovered that a flavonoid found exclusively in apples called phloridzin may protect postmenopausal women from osteoporosis by improving inflammation markers and increasing bone density.3
A medium apple also provides 15 percent of the recommended daily allowance of both fiber and vitamin C, and a variety of bone-building polyphenols, trace minerals and flavonoids.
Vitamin C, a Foundation Supplement, is essential for the production of collagen, which maintains muscles, blood vessels, bones and cartilage. It also supports liver function and promotes the production of glutathione, a compound that fights toxins in the liver. Fiber also moves toxins through the intestinal tract and helps to prevent them from being circulated to the liver. Ensuring liver health is a good way to ensure bone health as poor liver function has been connected to osteoporosis.1
Entire books have been written about the benefits of vitamin C and fiber, and apples are known to be a good source of both. But the unique combination of antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids, plus valuable bone-building minerals is what really makes the apple a bone healthy powerhouse.
A good example is boron, a trace mineral and another Save Our Bones Foundation Supplement found in apples which supports the function of important bone-healthy nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin D.2
They are also a good source of polyphenols, which have been shown to increase the production of osteoblasts. In fact, apples are one of the most potent fruit sources of polyphenols.3 And a study conducted in France has shown that phloridzin, a polyphenol exclusively found in apples and especially concentrated on apple peels, can prevent bone loss.4
Don't Peel Away the Nutrients!
Peel your apple and much of its fiber, antioxidant and phytonutrient value is lost. If pesticides worry you, and they should, buy organic apples to avoid not only pesticides but synthetic waxes as well. It would be beneficial to look for apples, even organic, that are not waxed. Waxing the apples allows them to be picked earlier and this means that the fruit is harvested before it reaches its nutritional peak.
By picking, I mean choosing the most nutritious and best-tasting apple out of the bin, but if you have a local orchard and would like to go apple picking, I can assure you that walking on slightly uneven terrain and climbing ladders are both great bone-building exercises!
Most of us, however, will be picking apples at the market. Look for firm fruits that display a rich color and no bruising, soft areas or discolorations. The skin should appear and feel smooth. The apple should yield but not remain depressed with slight pressure. Store apples in the refrigerator to preserve taste and nutritional value. Apples soak up strong odors and tastes, so don't store them next to onions or other pungent foods.
The apples said to have the greatest polyphenols and flavonoids are Rome Beauty, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Fuji apples and Red Delicious.
Apples are a delicious snack on their own, but here are a couple delicious recipes that my family enjoys… I hope yours will too! Both feature raw, peel-on apples to retain all the bone-building nutrients.
4 Red Delicious apples unpeeled, cored, and cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon organic orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh organic orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup of toasted chopped almonds (optional)
1. Combine apples, zest, juice, cardamom and cinnamon in a food processor and purée 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides when necessary.
2. Divide among 4 bowls. Top each serving with a dollop of yogurt and, if desired, almonds.
2 organic apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped (Jonathan or Granny Smith work well)
2 stalks organic celery, chopped
1/2 cup organic red grapes, halved
1 organic lemon, halved
6 tablespoons low-fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
1 cup of organic salad greens
1. In a medium bowl, toss apples, grapes and celery with juice from half of the lemon.
2. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, mustard and juice from the other lemon half.
3. Pour half of the dressing on the apples and toss.
4. Serve over salad greens and drizzle with remaining dressing. Garnish with walnuts if desired.
1 Wariaghli G, Mounach A, Achemlal L, Benbaghdadi I, Aouragh A, Bezza A, El Maghraoui A. “Osteoporosis in chronic liver disease: a case-control study.” Rheumatology International, Vol. 30, No. 7. May 2010
2 Newnham RE. “Essentiality of boron for healthy bones and joints”. Environ Health Perspective, Supplement 7. Nov. 1994
3 Vinson J, Su X, Zubik L, Bose P: “Phenol antioxidant quantity and quality in foods: fruits.” Journal Agriculture Food Chemistry. Vol. 49. 2001
4 Puel , Quintin et al.. “Prevention of bone loss by phloridzin, an apple polyphenol, in ovariectomized rats under inflammation conditions.” Calcified Tissue International. Vol. 77, No. 5. 2005