June 19, 2024

When it comes to eating more fruits and vegetables, Americans generally have a slightly easier time with the former. One report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that just over 12 percent of American adults consume the recommended daily serving of fruit, whereas about 10 percent get enough vegetables.

We could be doing a lot better in either case, given the volume of research showing the importance of produce to our health. People who eat plenty of vegetables and fruits have been shown to keep their weight in check, have better heart and eye health, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

One way to boost those numbers? Try using some of your favorite fruits in unexpected ways, like in savory dishes. Apples are a perennial favorite, and come in a range of flavors along the spectrum of sweet to tart. But while a slice of apple pie technically counts toward your daily produce quota, the sugar, calories, and unhealthy fat in fruit desserts outweighs the benefits.

And, true to the old saying about keeping the doctor away, apples are full of nutritional benefits. Top on the list is fiber: One medium apple contains 4 grams (g) of this all-important nutrient, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). And while fiber was once mainly associated with good digestive health, the list of ways it may be good for us seems to grow daily. There’s good evidence that dietary fiber is one of the most important factors in modulating the gut microbiome, which has been linked to weight maintenance, proper immune function, and the prevention of chronic diseases.

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