If you're looking for a healthy alternative to fatty or sugary desserts, stewed apples make an excellent option. Easy to prepare, stewed apples work well as a slightly sweet topping or as a dessert by itself, to be eaten with a spoon like a fruit compote. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average adult should half-fill the plate of each meal with fruits and vegetables. If you don't get a sufficient serving of fruit during dinner, a dessert of stewed apples can make up for it.
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Like many other fruits, apples have a high content of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that may reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases, some cancers and other chronic conditions. In addition to the flavonoids, researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute have found that the fructose in apples increases uric acid production, which further helps antioxidant activity. According to researcher Silvina Lotito at the Linus Pauling Institute, apples contribute about 22 percent of the flavonoids consumed in an average diet in the United States. For additional flavonoids, pair your stewed apples with a glass of wine, a cup of tea or a small piece of chocolate on the side; all are sources of flavonoids.
Apples are also an excellent source of vitamin C, an important water-soluble vitamin that aids growth, development and tissue repair. According to the Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment, a medium-sized apple provides about 11 percent of your daily vitamin C allotment. Like flavonoids, vitamin C is a type of antioxidant, meaning that it reduces damage from free radicals and diminishes atrophy and dysfunction caused by aging. In addition, vitamin C may reduce your likelihood of developing chronic conditions and diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Regularly eating apples also contributes to your fiber intake. Insoluble fiber, found in the rough skins and stalks of fruits and vegetables such as apple peels, helps with digestion, creating more bulk to for easier bowel movements. To get the most fiber from your stewed apples, cook them with the peels on. The less you cook them, the less the peels will break down, providing more roughage for your system. According to information from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension prepared in conjunction with the University of Nevada School of Medicine, men between the ages of 19 to 50 require about 38 grams of fiber daily; women from 19 to 50 need about 25 grams per day. One large apple has about 5 grams of fiber.
Stewed Apples as a Healthy Substitute
In addition to the nutrients found in apples themselves, opting for stewed apples as your dessert, snack or side dish may offer additional health benefits if you're having it instead of another, less healthful alternative. A Mayo Clinic recipe recommends baked apples, a similar variation on warm, whole apples, as a healthy dessert. Even with the dried fruit and whole grains you can use to fill baked apples, a single serving still has just 179 calories and only 4 grams of fat, with no saturated fats. The next time you have a hankering for fruit pie, have a dish of stewed apples instead. Instead of maple syrup on your morning waffles, top them with stewed apples.
- United States Department of Agriculture: ChooseMyPlate.gov
- Oregon State University - Linus Pauling Institute; Why Apples are Healthful; Silvina Lotito, Ph.D.; 2004
- MedLine Plus: Vitamin C
- University of Nevada Cooperative Extension: Figuring Out Fiber
- Mayo Clinic: Recipe: Baked Apples with Cherries and Almonds