Super Food of the Week: Apples
Apples are the main reason why fall is one of my favorite seasons. There’s nothing quite like going down to the local orchard with friends and hubby and picking my very own fresh apples. Apples come in an array of colors with corresponding tastes. Red and Golden Delicious apples are among the sweetest apples where Braeburn and Fuji apples are slightly tart. Pippin, and Granny Smith apples are the most tart, but retain their texture best when cooking. Needless to say there is a variety of apples to satisfy almost every pallet. Nutrients tend to vary in different varieties in apples but the most common nutrients are fiber (about 15% of the daily value) and vitamin C (about 11% of the daily value). Eating apples provide health benefits such as antioxidant protection, cardiovascular benefits, blood sugar regulation, anti-cancer benefits. So there may be some truth to the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Apples are a source of polyphenols which function as antioxidants, as well as vitamin C. These antioxidants are beneficial to the cardiovascular system by preventing atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular problems. Studies have shown that the antioxidants and the water soluble fiber in apples help lower the risk of asthma and lung cancer (one of the few fruits that demonstrate this ability). There is also evidence that the antioxidants in apples may provide protective benefits against colon and breast cancer in preliminary studies.
Studies on apples and blood sugar regulation are relatively new, but are catching plenty of attention. At various levels, the polyphenols in apples are capable of influencing our digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and the impact helps to naturally improve blood sugar regulation. Impacts observed via research are: the slowing down of carbohydrate digestion allowing carbohydrates, reduction of glucose absorption, the stimulation of the pancreas to release more insulin and the stimulation of insulin receptors. All of these factors play a role in regulating blood sugar.
While not as developed in research as other aspects, health benefits of apples have been established for several age-related health problems, to include macular degeneration of the eye and neurodegenerative problems (like Alzheimer’s disease). Researchers are also breaking ground in studying apples and the prevention of bone loss.
Apples can be found in local grocery stores year round but apples are normally in season from late summer to early winter. Apples can be enjoyed diced in fruit or green salads or sliced with cheese.
This article was originally posted last fall but with colder temperatures approaching and safety always my number one priority I thought it would be a good idea to repost the article with a few updates.
With autumn officially upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to start thinking ahead to the colder months and the things that you can do to stay safe if planning on exercising or spending time outdoors this fall and winter. Most people don’t realize that exercising in cold weather can be just as dangerous as exercising in hot weather. The biggest concern for exercising in the cold is hypothermia, or too much heat loss. When exercising in a cold environment you must consider one primary factor: How much heat will your body lose during exercise? One of the easiest ways to control heat loss is though insulation.
Clothing is generally a good insulator because it has the ability to trap air which is a poor conductor of heat. If the air trapped by the clothing cannot conduct heat away from the body, temperature will be maintained. However, water is a rapid conductor of heat and people will of course sweat while working out, even in cold temperatures. With this is mind, you want to choose clothing that can trap air but allow sweat to pass through and away from the body. It is important to avoid heavy cotton sweats or tightly woven material that will absorb and retain water. These materials cannot provide a layer of dry air near the skin and they can increase the amount of heat your body loses as you exercise. Also keeping hands and feet warm is also important when out in the cold. Lower temperatures can cause blood to be rerouted to the core of the body to protect and keep internal organs warm. This rerouting of the blood can cause tissue damage in the extremities. So keeping the body’s temperature stable throughout the entire body is important. When not in my Zumbawear®, my all-time favorite, holy grail brand of fitness gear is Under Armor. Under Armour’s ColdGear® line provides moisture wicking material and an insulating material that helps to trap air and keep you warm. The collection features base clothing as well as outerwear (including gloves, socks, and hats) that help keep you comfortable in cold weather without bulkiness weighing you down (even when layering).
Rules to remember when exercising in the cold:
- Check the temperature and wind conditions before you go out and do not exercise if conditions are dangerous. Your better option might be heading to the gym or working out in the warmth and comfort of your home.
- Keep your head, hands and feet warm.
- Dress in layers that can provide a trapped layer of dry air near the skin.
- Warm the air you are breathing if temperatures are below your comfort level. This can be done by wearing a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth.
Regardless of if you’re working out in the cold or taking a fall stroll or enjoying the first snowball fight of the season, these tips will help keep you safe and moving.
You can find Under Armour online at www.underarmour.com, at your local sporting goods or Under Armour store, or TJ Maxx or Marshalls.
Until next week…
G. Nicole Shea, B.S., ACSM-CPT
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Zumba Fitness Instructor