Most of us in North America can get apples all year, from as far away as New Zealand and Chile, if necessary. But autumn is the apple-est time of year to get a large variety of more local apples–they are grown in every state.
In 1905, a book entitled Nomenclature of the Apple: A Catalog of the Known Varieties Referred to in American Publications from 1804 to 1904 was published that listed 14,000 different apples grown in this part of the world–now it is down to around 90 that are sold commercially. Everyone has their individual preference for taste and texture and the versatile apple can be eaten in a number of delicious (and nutritious) ways with an apple for every need.
Grandmammy of Them All
Of all these pippins, macintoshes, golden and red delicious, Cortland, Spartan, pink ladies, and honeycrisp, there is one apple that sits at the top of the list as one that contributes most to weight loss: the Granny Smith.
A recent study at Washington State University found that Granny Smith apples contain more non-digestible compounds than other kinds of apples.
Non-digestible–and that’s a good thing? Yes.
Because fiber and polyphenols (a kind of plant-based antioxidant) aren’t completely broken down by the digestive system, they arrive in the colon intact, doing the things that fiber does and providing nutrition.
In addition, because they haven’t already been broken down, the tiny bits of apple ferment when the good bacteria in the colon get at them. You need these bacteria to digest, absorb nutrition, and therefore nourish you.
One of the sad byproducts of being overweight is that the levels of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system are typically low as the result of poor eating habits. As we mentioned, these bacteria are necessary to properly process the foods we eat; the more efficient your digestion, the less weight you gain or retain.
Promoting Fermentation in the Gut
In the study, obese mice that ate Granny Smith apples were found to have healthy amounts of beneficial bacteria in their feces comparable to those found in normal mice:
“These results suggest that apple non-digestible compounds might help to re-establish a disturbed microbiota balance in obesity.”
If gut bacteria are abundant, you process food more completely and efficiently, and are more likely to lose weight rather than having excess energy stored as fat.
Granny Smith apples then join other probiotic foods (these latter ones are fermented outside our bodies!) to help promote digestive health. Other easy choices: sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, pickles, yogurt, and kefir.
An Apple a Day: Not Just an Old Saying
Pectin provides apples’ intrinsic fiber, which slows digestion and helps to make you feel full–avoiding the temptation to overeat. Apples provide other nutrition, too, with vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, and iron.
These, in addition to fiber and phytonutrients, can mitigate the incidence of high cholesterol, asthma, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease while supporting bone and lung health.
BTW, who is “Granny Smith”? She was a real person. Maria Ann Smith emigrated to Australia in 1838 after being recruited by the British government to settle and farm New South Wales.
She and her husband were orchardists and she developed apple seedlings from the remains of a variety of French crabapple that was being grown in Tasmania. Granny Smith shared some of her seedlings with area farmers and now we can enjoy their descendants.
How do you like them apples?