Enjoy Apples This Holiday Season
By Madalina Hubert
The holidays are coming and it’s a good time to take a fresh look at one of our favourite fruits, apples. Here is how you can enjoy apples this holiday season!
Versatile, good-looking, and with plenty of health benefits, apples are a staple of most homes. Harvested during autumn, they can last year-round if stored in cool, dark places. Because they have such a long storage life, we can easily enjoy fresh apples in the cold winter. This is what makes them such a beloved part of winter holiday celebrations.
There are countless of apple recipes from around the world since many cultures include apples as part of their diet. The most popular dish, in North America, is, of course, the classic apple pie. Many of us have memories of baked apple and cinnamon scents coming from our mothers’ or grandmothers’ kitchens. Of course, when the weather gets cold, we can also look forward to that hot apple cider!
Apples are not only a delicious treat but are also attractive ornaments. In fact, in the old days, people would decorate Christmas trees with apples and other fruit. Children would also often receive gifts of apples and oranges in their stockings. In China today, young people give each other festively wrapped apples around Christmas time. As it turns out, the word for apple, ‘pingguo’ sounds like Christmas Eve, ‘ping’an ye’ in Mandarin! Because of this, it has become a tradition to enjoy apples with family and friends in China.
Health Benefits of Apples
Apple dishes are popular in different cultures due to their availability, but also because of their health benefits. Many of their benefits have been proven by modern medical studies. These include:
- Improving digestion and regulating bowel movements
- Reducing the risk of cancer, including colon, breast and lung cancer
- Lowering cholesterol levels and improving overall heart health
- Reducing the risk of stroke, diabetes, and respiratory problems
- Boosting brain health and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
- Building strong bones and protecting teeth
- Fighting toxins in the liver
- Boosting immunity and improving the skin
For a medically reviewed article on the health benefits of apples, see 34 Evidence-Based Benefits of Apples.
Apples In Traditional Medicine
According to traditional Chinese medicine, apples are cooling in nature with a sweet and sour flavour. In the article, Apple and Lung Function, Dr. Ping Wang writes that apples are great for the lungs, which in turn control key functions in the body, including skin health. Since apples also clear liver toxins, Dr. Wang recommends eating an apple after drinking alcohol to protect the liver. You can also refer to her article for a recipe for home-made apple-watermelon juice.
While we can prepare apples in many ways, eating raw apples (with the skin) seems to have the most health benefits. However, just be sure they are properly washed since they could have traces of pesticides or wax. Other than that, there appears to be no negative side effects for most people. That said, keep apples as part of a balanced diet and check with a medical practitioner if there are any problems.
So enjoy that apple a day this winter! But of course, don’t overindulge in that apple pie. Too much sugar is not good for anyone.
That said, here are some delicious holiday apple recipes.
Madalina Hubert is a Toronto-based writer specializing in art, culture, travel, and culinary explorations.