In the modern-day supermarket, an apple is something that never disappears. No matter what time of year it is, there will be apples. But does that mean there is still a season for apples? You bet there is, and that would be from about September until the start of spring.
Apple season isn't that difficult to spot. I mean, have you been to the market lately? Apples happen to be a great bargain right now. And variety? For snacking, you've got your Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, and Red and Green Delicious, to name a few. And don't forget the tarter Rome and Granny Smith, which are ideal for baking.
When you load up on apples starting now — but especially in October, which is National Apple Month — you are going to save some dough, and you're going to save something else, too: calories! Researchers have compelling proof that three apples a day can help get rid of fat. It's so simple, they say: three apples, one before each meal. Sound too good to be true? There is a medical explanation for why the most common of all fruits can make such a big impact.
For starters, three apples will add about 15 grams of fiber to your diet. Research shows that increasing fiber intake tends to decrease calorie consumption. But wait! There's more.
Apples contain something called pectin, which, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, reduces the urge to eat for up to four hours. Pectin, the same stuff that makes jelly get thick, swells up in the digestive tract and can increase a sense of fullness. This fullness sends a signal to the brain to stop eating, and don't we all need to hear that message from time to time?
Many who have taken the three-apples-a-day challenge report that if they are careful to munch down an apple a full 30 minutes before mealtime, large portions are out of the question. And by the time that sense of fullness starts to wear off (about four hours), it's time to eat another apple.
Nutrition expert and "Everyday Cheapskate" reader and registered dietitian Robyn Flanders says that apples are a lot cheaper than diet pills, and they are 100% safe. As a bonus, making apples part of your regular diet can help slash cholesterol and reduce the risk of lung cancer, diabetes, asthma, stroke and heart disease. Imagine all that for only about 95 calories per apple. And just because you ate one before dinner doesn't mean you can't enjoy another for dessert!
Should you have an overabundance of apples this fall, make cinnamon applesauce. Make lots, because it freezes well. Put quartered, peeled, cored apples in a pot. Add ground cinnamon to taste, starting with 1/2 teaspoon for 3 to 4 apples and adding more just a sprinkle or two at a time. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until apples are very soft. Mash with a potato masher, adding sugar if needed. Serve warm or chilled.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
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