It is probably not surprising that apples are one of the most popular tree fruits in the world. Usually picked in early fall in the United States, they’re a sweet, crunchy source of fiber and antioxidants, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid.
In reality, research has shown that the health benefits of eating apples range from a lower risk of developing certain cancers to a reduced risk of heart disease, asthma and diabetes. The antioxidants in apples can be especially helpful in slowing the growth of cancer cells and lowering cholesterol.
And if you’re worried about the sugar content in apples, don’t be. While a medium apple (with nutrient-rich skin!) contains almost 21 grams of sugar, it also has around 5 grams of fiber, which helps slow down your body’s digestion of sugary foods. This means you won’t experience the sugar spike – then crash – associated with foods with added sugars and very little fiber (like white bread). Plus, apples are a great source of vitamins and minerals. For example, an average apple contains 214 milligrams of potassium and about 9 milligrams of vitamin C.
There are also many healthy, natural ways to use apples that don’t always involve eating them. When you’ve made all the apple pie your family can handle and still have plenty of fruit left, check out the six home remedies below. Heather Zwickey, Ph.D., professor of immunology at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR.
Apple essential oil
Use this essential oil in a diffuser for a relaxing scent or add it to homemade beauty products. Wash, cut and seed 1 medium apple. Thinly slice it using a grater, mandolin or the slicing disc of a food processor. Toss the slices with 1 cup of organic olive or almond oil in the top of a double boiler. Add a few inches of water to the bottom of the double boiler and boil the mixture for 30 minutes, then strain the apples and store the oil in a lidded glass jar in a cool, dark place. Will last 3 to 6 months.
This deliciously scented soap is soft and soothing. Mix 1/3 cup of coconut oil, 1/3 cup beeswax pastilles, and 1/3 cup of shea butter. Microwave at 20 to 30 second intervals for about 1.5 minutes total. Stir in 15 drops of apple essential oil (recipe above), pour into soap molds, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This recipe can be doubled or tripled, and the soap makes a great gift.
To prepare this refreshing drink, wash, seed and chop 1 medium organic sweet apple such as Gala, Fuji or Honeycrisp. (Keep the skin on for an extra dose of fiber and vitamins.) Combine with ½ cup of ice, ½ cup of cranberry-pomegranate or cranberry juice, 1 medium banana (about 6 inches long) and 1 teaspoon of green tea powder. Stir until combined and enjoy.
Try this moisturizing shampoo with a fresh apple scent. Pour a cup of canned (non-canned) unsweetened plain coconut milk into a glass pump bottle. Add 1 cup of liquid Castile soap, 1 teaspoon vegetal glycerine for conditioning and shine, and 20 to 30 drops of apple essential oil (recipe above). Shake the bottle until all the ingredients are well combined. Use a pump or two for shampoo, shaking the bottle before each use. Lasts about a month.
Soothing treatment for hair and scalp
Reduce frizz and relieve itchy dandruff with this conditioner rinse. Pour a cup of water and 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a spray. Add 4 drops of tea tree oil and 4 drops of apple essential oil (recipe above), which strengthens the hair shaft. Shake to mix, apply to shampooed hair until completely coated, massage into scalp and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with clear water. Use 2-3 times per month.
Heart-healthy apple muffins
These muffins are a sweet treat that’s high in fiber. To start, prepare applesauce: wash, seed and cut 8 medium organic apples (with the skin on) into pieces. Put in a saucepan with 1 cup of water. Turn the stove on to high heat, cover and let the water boil to steam the apples for 10 minutes. Check frequently, adding water as needed. Stir in 4 teaspoons of cinnamon and bring to a boil again. When the apples are tender, use a hand blender or food processor to pulverize them. To make muffins, preheat the oven to 400 ° F. Combine 2 cups of flour, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, ½ teaspoon of baking soda and 1 pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, combine ½ cup of melted and cooled salted butter, 2 large eggs, ½ cup of granulated sugar, ¼ cup of packed brown sugar and 1 cup of homemade applesauce. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir about 15 times, allowing any lumps to remain. Butter, flour and fill a 12 muffin tin with dough. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 ° F and bake for another 10 minutes or until cooked through.
A version of this article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Prevention.
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