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Apple For Kids: Interesting Facts, Health Benefits And Recipes

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Apples are an all-season fruit that comes in different colors and varieties. They are undoubtedly popular around the globe and rank in the top three most grown fruits in the world (1). For centuries, apples are tagged as a miracle food and as you have all read or heard “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. But is that true or just hype? It is an intriguing question for parents who have been feeding apples to their kids, hoping that they are giving nothing but the best.

This MomJunction post will provide you with all the essential information about apples, its health benefits, and ways to incorporate it into your kid’s diet. Let’s begin with some interesting facts about apples.

Interesting Facts About Apple For Kids

  1. Apples look as beautiful as flowers. But did you know that they actually are a part of the rose family? Isn’t it a real connection!
  1. How many varieties of apples exist? You might say a 100.  But actually, there are almost 8,000 different varieties of apples, the largest variety of fruit to exist.
  1. The world’s fastest-growing plant is bamboo, but for apples, it takes 4-5 years to produce their first fruit, phew!
  1. Apples may be available throughout the year, thanks to cold storage. But in actuality, apples have a period of dormancy.
  1. An apple helps in your good health and longevity, but an apple tree itself has a life expectancy of 100 years.
  1. Apple is popularly referred to as the forbidden fruit of Eden. But this is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.
  1. Apple is often marketed to be rich in micronutrients like vitamin C and potassium. But the total amount of vitamin C found in apples is far less than the amount found in guava, oranges, and strawberries.
  1. It is generally believed that once an apple is cut, it gets brown due to bacterial contamination. But is that so? No, the browning of a cut apple is nothing but enzymatic browning. Enzymatic browning is a plant’s defense system that keeps the apple safe from pests and pathogens (2).
  1. Photophobia, claustrophobia, and then apple phobia. Yes, you heard it right. Malusdomesticaphobia is a term used for people who fear either apples or eating apples.
  1. Can apples float? Oh, yes, they can. But how? Simple science – 25% of an apple’s volume is air.

This fact list can be endless, but as you learned some facts about apples, let’s just start knowing some nutritional details.

[ Read: Benefits Of Vitamin B For Kids ]

Nutritional Value Of Apple

Whole apples (i.e., apples with peel) have various nutrients in good amounts. Several essential nutrients and bioactive compounds in the fruit are present immediately under the apple’s skin. Therefore, it is advisable to eat the apple with the peel.

Below are the nutrients that you would find in a medium-sized apple (182 grams) corresponding to the daily requirement of nutrients on a per-day basis for kids.

NameAmountRDA (per day)
Water156g
Energy94.6Kcal
Carbohydrate, by difference25.1g130g
Fiber, total dietary4.37g16.8 – 22.4g
Sugars, total including NLEA18.9g
Calcium, Ca10.9mg1000 – 1300mg
Magnesium, Mg9.1mg8 – 10mg
Phosphorus, P20mg500 – 1250mg
Potassium, K195mg3800 – 4500mg
Sodium, Na1.82mg1900 – 2200mg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid8.37mg25-45mg
Folate, total5.46µg200-300µg
Choline, total6.19mg250-375mg
Vitamin A, RAE5.46µg400-600µg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)4µg

Source: US Department of Agriculture (3) (4)

As per the approximate composition, the apple does not seem to be exceptional. However, the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2010 recommends the inclusion of an apple as a component of a child’s overall healthy diet (5).

[ Read: Benefits Of Vitamin A For Kids ]

Health Benefits Of Apples For Kids

The health benefits of apple are attributed to the fiber and bioactive compounds such as quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid present in it (6).

  1. Weight management: 100 grams of apples contains 85 grams of water. This makes apples a low-calorie fruit. Besides, it has considerable fiber. These two vital components make it a good choice to keep your kid away from weight gain concerns (7). However, regular physical activity with a well-balanced diet is also needed to manage weight.
  1. Digestive health: Apples are a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber present in the skin of the apple holds water in the intestine and adds bulk. It makes the food movement in the intestine smooth.  Besides, it aids in cleansing the intestine (8).
  1. Bone health: Some studies have shown that long-term consumption of apples might help in restoring bone health (7). It could be due to the presence of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
  1. Cognitive health: Apple is known to contain phenolic compounds that have shown effectiveness against free radical damage (9). Research is ongoing on the potential of apples to maintain and improve brain health.
  1. Prebiotic support: Gut microbiota profile can be altered with the help of a diet. However, for that, the type and quantity of food that reach the colon has an important part to play. Apple has insoluble fiber, such as cellulose and hemicellulose, that acts as prebiotic. It reaches the colon and possibly supports the enhancement of the gut microbiota (10).
  1. Cardiovascular health: Apples have a considerable amount of soluble fiber, such as pectin. Pectin is considered effective in preventing the accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessels. It eventually reduces the incidence of cardiovascular diseases (9). Besides fiber, apples have bioactive compounds, such as flavonoids that may further reduce cardiovascular risks (10).
  1. Antioxidant property: A research study showed that the antioxidant activity of unripe apples is higher than ripe ones (11). However, ripe apples have the highest proportion of free phenolics that are more readily absorbed by the body. The high antioxidant activity could be useful in preventing chronic diseases like cancer (12). It is important to note here that the antioxidant activity varies as per the variety of the apple. Also, higher antioxidant activity is attributed to apple peel than apple flesh.

Apple definitely is a good choice for your kids. However, it may pose some risks.

Are There Any Health Risks Of Apple For Kids?

Consumption of apples is seldom associated with health concerns. However, there could be some potential risks.

  1. Oral allergy syndrome: An oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is a form of contact allergy dermatitis, which mostly occurs among those who are allergic to the birch tree pollen. A few proteins found in an apple may trigger the allergic reaction, which displays symptoms such as swelling and itchiness of the mouth, lip, tongue, and throat (13). However, not all varieties of apple are allergic. Also, cooked apples may not pose the risk of allergy (14).
  1. Damage to tooth enamel: The American Dental Association suggests that frequent consumption of acidic foods can erode tooth enamel (15). Apple does have some amount of acidity, and a study noted that the erosion caused by the fruit was even greater than orange (16). Apple fruit juice could be more acidic than the whole fruit (17). While the juice can be avoided, the benefits of eating the whole apple outweigh the risks. Fruits seldom cause extensive tooth decay by themselves. Nevertheless, a child can take a sip of plain water after eating an apple to neutralize the acidity and it’s always nice to rinse your mouth after eating a meal or a snack
  1. Pesticides: Apples rank on the top of Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Dirty Dozen list. The fruits are estimated to harbor an average of 4.4 pesticide residue, including the presence of diphenylamine, a regulated pesticide in the US and Europe. Although the US considers diphenylamine safe, the European food safety authority showed concerns about the adverse health effects of diphenylamine-treated fruit. The pesticide can cause the formation of compounds called nitrosamines. Some studies have found that eating foods containing nitrosamines could elevate the risk of stomach and esophageal cancers (18). Therefore, it is recommended to eat organic apples as much as possible after washing them properly.

Giving the whole fruit, with peel, is the best way to eat an apple. However, if your children are not a fan of an apple, you may try some interesting recipes for them.

Apple Recipes For Kids

Below are some delicious and healthy recipes that include apple and help provide nutrition to the child.

1. Apple quinoa bowl

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This recipe is an easy addition to your kid’s breakfast. It is healthy and also easy to prepare. Besides, it is highly nutritious and contains all the essential nutrients in the right amount.

You will need:

  • 500ml low-fat milk
  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium apple (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2tbsp brown sugar
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup berries (optional) – for garnishing

How to:

  1. Take a saucepan and put it over medium heat. Add milk and bring it to simmer.
  2. Now add quinoa to milk and stir. Reduce the flame at this point to low.
  3. Let the mix simmer for about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is tender. Stir frequently and make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to keep the milk from burning.
  4. Once the quinoa is tender, remove the saucepan from the heat and keep it aside.
  5. Meanwhile, take a skillet and put it over medium heat. As it heats, put butter and melt it.
  6. Add apple slices to melted butter and cook until the apples turn soft. While stirring continuously, add water, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cook until the liquid thickens.
  7. Put the quinoa in the serving bowl and spoon the apples, remaining juices, and berries on top of the quinoa.

Tip: Another variation of this dish can be made with low-fat yogurt. You can add a handful of seeds and nuts as well to intensify the nutritive value of the dish multi-folds.

2. Whole grain apple crumble

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This recipe is a perfect preparation to serve your kids after school. However, it can also be included in their breakfast. A fiber-packed, after-school meal is a wise choice for kids when you want to keep them away from all the easily available junk foods.

You will need: 

  • 2 apples, peeled (thinly sliced)
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 30g almond meal
  • 1tsp vanilla paste
  • 75g multigrain flour
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g almond chunks
  • 50g brown sugar

How to:

  1. Grease a baking sheet. Coat the apples with a mix of sugar, almond meal, and vanilla paste. Place them in layers on the tray.
  2. Take flour in a large bowl. Add butter to it and mix them well. While mixing, add almond chunks and brown sugar as well.
  3. Once the mix is ready, add the vanilla paste to the mix.
  4. Add the prepared mix on top of the apple slices. Sprinkle a few almond chunks on top of the apple.
  5. Place the baking tray in an oven at 230-degree celsius for 20 minutes.
  6. Pack it in the box or serve fresh with chilled yogurt.

Tip: To provide some variety to this recipe, you can add millet flour instead of multigrain flour. However, the baking temperature needs to be set as per the millet you desire to add. Also, seeds and nuts trail mix can also be added to the recipe to intensify the nutritive value of the recipe.

3. Apple and chia seeds smoothie

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Apple and chia seeds smoothie is a great addition to your kid’s daily meal. A serving of smoothie can be refreshing. This smoothie is also packed with protein and healthy fat to meet your child’s daily nutritional requirements.

You will need:

  • 1 apple (chopped)
  • 1 cup unsweetened yogurt
  • 1tsp peanut butter
  • 1 cup mixed nuts
  • 1tsp chia seeds

How to:

  1. Add apples, yogurt, mixed nuts, and peanut butter in a blender.
  2. Blend everything together until you get a smooth flowing mixture. You can add some water to mix in case the recipe feels too thick.
  3. Now take a glass and add chia seeds to it. Fill the glass with the smoothie and keep the glass in the fridge for 30 mins.
  4. Serve it chilled.

Tip: This recipe can be prepared with coconut or almond milk as well. Variety and moderation is the key to success. So keep trying different healthy alternatives of each ingredient that could help you make the recipe more nutritious.

[ Read: Food For Brain Development In Children ]

Adding an apple a day to your kid’s daily meals is a good decision. However, tagging it as a miracle fruit might be an exaggeration. Maintain variety by adding various fruits to provide the healthiest meals for your kid.

Have something to share about apples for kids? Let us know in the comments section below.

References:

1. Apples; Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health
2. Curiosities: Why do apple slices turn brown?; University of Wisconsin-Madison
3. Apple, raw ( 341508 ); FoodData Central; USDA
4. Dietary Guidelines For The Americans 2015-2020; USDA
5. Carol E. O’Neil et al., Consumption of apples is associated with a better diet quality and reduced risk of obesity in children: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2010; National Center For Biotechnology Information
6. Jeanelle Boyer and Rui Hai Liu; Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits; National Center For Biotechnology Information
7. Dianne A. Hyson; A Comprehensive Review of Apples and Apple Components and Their Relationship to Human Health; National Center For Biotechnology Information
8. Apple Nutrition; University of Illinois Extension
9. Shalika Rana and Shashi Bhushan; Apple phenolics as nutraceuticals: assessment, analysis and application; National Center For Biotechnology Information
10. Athanasios Koutsos et al., Apples and Cardiovascular Health—Is the Gut Microbiota a Core Consideration?; National Center For Biotechnology Information
11. Aleksandra Duda-Chodak et al., Antioxidant Activity Of Apples-An activity of Maturity Stage And Fruit Part; ACTA
12. Jeanelle Boyer and Rui Hai Liu; Antioxidants of Apples; Semantic Scholar
13. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) Or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS); American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
14. Oral Allergy Syndrome; Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters
15. Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth; Mouth Healthy; American Dental Association
16. Grobler SR et al., The degree of enamel erosion by five different kinds of fruit.; National Center For Biotechnology Information
17. Stefan Zimmer et al., Influence of Various Acidic Beverages on Tooth Erosion. Evaluation by a New Method; National Center For Biotechnology Information
18. Apples Doused With Chemical After Harvest; Environmental Working Group

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