While we wouldn't recommend a bushel as a cure-all, there is some truth to the old adage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
Eating apples can also support a healthy gut, which is all about getting that good bacteria. And apples contain various compounds, including a prebiotic fiber called pectin, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, author of Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen.
"Pectin is a soluble fiber that helps foster the growth of beneficial gut bacteria while inhibiting the growth of harmful gut bacteria," Largeman-Roth says.
Eating apples regularly is also associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease, according to a June 2003 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (This was part of the extensive Women's Health Survey, which looked at 40,000 women over multiple years.)
And eating white-fleshed fruits like pears or apples is tied to a reduced risk of stroke, according to a September 2011 study in Stroke.
So, for a happy belly this apple-picking season, we've rounded up some of the tastiest apple dessert recipes because who says dessert can't be healthy?
Are You Getting Enough Fruits and Veggies?
1. Single-Serving Apple Cobbler
You'd be hard-pressed to find a low-sugar apple cobbler recipe because apples contain a lot of sugar. But when you eat fruit, you're reaping the other nutrients, including fiber and antioxidants.
In fact, eating more fruit has been linked with a decreased risk of developing chronic conditions, including obesity, cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease, according to a September 2012 study in the European Journal of Nutrition.
That said, you can make a lower-sugar apple cobbler dessert by scaling back on portion size and the amount of added sugar — and this one does just that!
Get the Single-Serving Apple Cobbler recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Spiced Apple Chips
Nothing smells more like fall than spiced apples. Spiced apple chips are, perhaps, the sweeter, less-hipster cousin of the kale chip. And good news when it comes to baking apples: The nutrition stays roughly the same.
"The only nutrient that is lost during cooking or baking is vitamin C, which is heat- and light-sensitive," Largeman-Roth says.
If you're going to cook or bake your apples, Marisa Moore, RDN, recommends cooking or baking them for a shorter period of time, which can retain more of the vitamin C than if they're cooked longer.
Get the Spiced Apple Chips recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Muffins are perfect for breakfast, of course, but top them with a little icing and voila! You have a fancy dessert.
While gluten-free foods aren't necessarily healthier, baking with oat flour, like this recipe calls for, is a fun way to experiment with new ingredients that are safe for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerances.
Get the Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins recipe and nutrition info at All the Healthy Things.
4. Apple-Walnut Overnight French Toast
While we're on the foods-that-can-be-breakfast-or-dessert train, apples provide a natural sweetness to a simple french toast without excess sugar. Keep the peel on, which is a good source of fiber, Largeman-Roth says. (Just be sure to wash the apples first!)
Get the Apple-Walnut Overnight French Toast recipe at Frances Largeman-Roth.
5. Sparkling Apple-Ginger Mocktail
Kick back and relax with a sweet, refreshing treat after dinner sans alcohol. Ginger, which adds a little zing to your drink, also helps with digestion and fights inflammation. One glass of this fall mocktail clocks in at under 100 calories.
Get the sparkling Apple-Ginger Mocktail recipe and nutrition info at Marisa Moore.
6. Hot Apple Sunrise Sundae
While this recipe calls for Greek yogurt, we like it with a scoop of real vanilla ice cream when the mood strikes. Dairy, like yogurt (especially the full-fat version, which can help you feel full), is a good source of calcium and protein, according to the USDA.
And when you add nuts, like pecans, you'll get a boost of heart-healthy fats and extra crunch.
Get the Hot Apple Sunrise Sundae recipe and nutrition info here.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Flavonoid Intake and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women"
- European Journal of Nutrition: "Critical Review: Vegetables and Fruit in the Prevention of Chronic Diseases"
- International Journal of Preventive Medicine: "Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence"
- Stroke: "An Apple a Day Keeps Stroke Away?"
- Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN