How Do you Like Them Apples?

Here he is again! That cute, confident, smiling little diapered one, complete with top hat and 2020 banner draped across his chest. We all recognize him. He’s Baby New Year, ready and eager to begin a fresh new year, a new decade. Some welcome him; some dread him.

Did you know the image of “Baby New Year” started in ancient Greece? Each new year it was customary to place a newborn baby in a winnowing basket and lift it to the sky honoring the rebirth of Dionysus. Dionysus was the son of Zeus and god of wine (sounds a little like Lion King to me). Later in 1937, a magazine illustrator drew him with a top hat, surrounded by confetti as a symbol of a strong economy. And the image remained.

Well, in comes the baby and out goes “Father Time,” an older but wiser man now. Also come the resolutions. No doubt one or more of them will be focused on health and wellness. Some have seen many babies enter and many a Father Time exit over the years, I included. I’ve learned that it's more important how long you can live healthy than just to live long. And believe it or not, an important part of a long healthy life can start with just an apple.

There are over 2500 varieties grown in the U.S. and 7500 varieties are grown throughout the world. California is the third largest producer of this wonder fruit. In 2019 four new varieties were introduced - Envy, SugarBee, Rave, and Cosmic Crisp. Whichever one you prefer to bite, apples can actually help to fulfill many of your other health resolutions. Apples are loaded with fiber and important vitamins, so they can help you lose weight, supply energy to exercise, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer. Your gut will love their pectin, which acts as a prebiotic. Your immune system will be protected, as apples contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Think of good lung health. Your bone health will enjoy a boost, as your bone mass will be preserved as you age. Apples also preserve acetylcholine, necessary for good brain health. As this neurotransmitter declines with age, Alzheimer’s may be prevented. No brain games needed here.

As someone very wise once said, (I think it was my Mom,) “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It really can. Apples contain a natural source of salicylic acid found in aspirin. This compound benefits the body as a whole, and may prevent blood clots that can lead to stroke. Start your New Year with a bite of good health. Bite into an apple; your choice.

By Cheryl Balster

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