As I drive around Longmont, I notice apple trees everywhere. Their long, arching branches draped over fences or sweeping green lawns, loaded down with rosy hued or pale green fruit.

Most of them will fall to the ground uneaten. Which is a shame, considering how delicious and beneficial this polyphenol powerhouse is.

If you love apples like I do, you may not need a reason to eat them. But recent studies on apples make eating them even more compelling.

Here are 5 reasons to eat apples, and how you can best harness their nutritional power.

Blood Sugar Regulator (#1)

Apple polyphenols do a number of things to help regulate your blood sugar. They slow down carbohydrate digestion and reduce glucose absorption. They also stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin, and help insulin receptors to attach to more insulin to help move more sugar out of your bloodstream into your cells.

Lower Your Cholesterol and CRP (#2, #3)

Research studies confirm the cardiovascular benefits of apples. An apple a day really can make a difference. The fruit’s unusual mix of polyphenols combined with their pectin help reduce total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. Researchers believe the quercetin in apples is responsible for the fruit’s anti-inflammatory benefits.

Lower Your Risk of Lung Cancer and Asthma (#4, #5)

Researchers have found that apples are one of the few fruits closely related to lowering your risk of lung cancer. Multiple studies have also shown that regularly eating apples has clear anti-asthma benefits. Likely these benefits are due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of apples, but there could be something else responsible that they haven’t uncovered yet.

Eat the Whole (Organic) Apple

To harness the full anti-oxidant power of apples, you need to eat the whole fruit raw, including the skin. Quercetin, for instance, is more concentrated in the skin than the pulp. Anthocyanins make an apple red, so that is primarily in the skin.

The polyphenols in commercial applesauce and apple juice are dramatically reduced. They just can’t take the heat of cooking and processing. Instead, make your own raw apple sauce by using a high speed blender to maintain those vital nutrients.

Unfortunately, conventionally grown apples are consistently #1 on the EWGs annual Dirty Dozen list of produce containing the most pesticides. Most of the pesticides remain in the peel, and you don’t want to eliminate the amazing benefits of apple peels by discarding them, so your best option is to buy certified organic apples or apples from a local farm that does not use pesticides.

Raw Apple Recipes

Here are some recipes from around the web that allow the season’s crisp, juicy apples to shine.

Raw Apple Crisp

Raw Apple Pie

Apple Pie Smoothie

Fresh Apple Salsa

New-Fashioned Apple and Raisin Slaw

Celery-Apple Salad

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples and Raisins

Quinoa and Apple Salad with Curry Dressing

Carrot, Apple and Cabbage Salad

Apple Sandwiches with Granola and Peanut Butter

Apple and Aged Cheddar Grilled Cheese

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