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Health

Apple Picking: More Than Just a Fun Fall Trip

What you never knew about the healthy, crunchy fruit and should

Apples provide some the best tastes of autumn — think of all that yummy apple pie at this time of year, plus apple crisps, apple tarts and more. And if you go apple picking, you better indulge in warm, cinnamon sugar–coated apple cider donuts made on site. They’re a necessary pleasure.

And fall isn’t fall unless you can take some time to sit back with a favorite book and sip a hot cup of apple cider

Taking time to go apple picking reconnects you with nature and the apples themselves make for a hearty snack.

But let’s focus on the “core” here. Take away all the extra butter, sugar, and flour in those apple desserts — and you’ve got a mouth-watering and delicious snack.

More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the United States. There are the traditionally recognized varieties — Macintosh, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious — but there are also heirloom varieties that look unappealing but sport a fantastic flavor. The Knobbed Russet looks wrinkled and brown, but it’s a favorite among apple connoisseurs. Spitzenburg apples, another heirloom, were the favorites of Thomas Jefferson, who planted scores of trees at Monticello.

America is celebrating something of an apple resurgence right now. A nonprofit group called Renewing America’s Food Traditions has been working to get rare apples back into the American diet. There were thousands of apple varieties in the U.S. before 1900, and 86 percent of them have been lost. Orchards, thankfully, are cultivating rare and delicious species. Capitol Reef National Park in Utah has boosted their number of visitors by cultivating and harvesting heirloom apples.

Taking time to go apple picking reconnects you with nature, said Kimberly Gomer, director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in Miami, Florida. And the apples themselves make for a hearty snack.

The best way to eat them is the whole fruit, skin and all, because the skin contains important nutrients, Gomer explained. You can add them to salads and wraps to get a nice, sweet crunch. “They are also delicious baked — baked apples filled with cinnamon and raisins — baked and then topped with some Greek yogurt,” Gomer told All Around Happy.

But what are the magic nutrients in apples that set them apart from other fruit? Gomer lists five:

1.) Fiber: The fiber in the apple helps you feel full and regulates your blood sugar. Skip the applesauce this time.

2.) Pectin: This phytonutrient makes apples heart-healthy because it lowers cholesterol and blood fats.

3.) Vitamin C: This vitamin provides an important immune system boost.

4.) Polyphenols: These micronutrients inhibit the enzymes that cause our body stress during sugar breakdown. They have also been found to prevent neurodegenerative diseases later on in life.

5.) Quercetin: This antioxidant may help boost exercise endurance by making oxygen more available to the lungs.

When it comes to the apple picking ritual, there are only plusses. The activity gets you and your family outside, enjoying nutritious foods, and disconnecting from everyday stress.

As Robert Frost famously poeticized, fall is the season when “there were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch, cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.”