“Harvest” of the month: An apple a day…

I always encourage you to eat apples year-round. They’re one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. In fact, consuming them can keep you in optimal health.

And this month, apples are in peak season!

So, go ahead and plan a trip to the orchard to pick a variety of fresh, crisp apples.

Then, enjoy their deliciousness—all while reaping the following health benefits, which begin after your first bite…

Apples naturally clean your teeth and keep your breath fresh. Plus, eating this type of crunchy fruit and similar vegetables (like celery and carrots) removes particles and plaque—helping prevent tooth decay and odors.

Apples also have healthy doses of nutrients. They’re rich in vitamins B, C, and K, along with calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

They’re also an excellent source of polyphenols. These naturally occurring antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables and have been shown to lower the risk of many common chronic diseases (including heart disease and diabetes)…while boosting longevity.

Next, apples are loaded with a kind of natural fiber called pectin that’s particularly important for supporting probiotics—the healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal microbiome. (For more about probiotics and gut health, see page 8.)

In fact, current research suggests that one reason apples are so healthy for your heart and metabolism has to do with their support of probiotics. Not to mention, other research shows organic apples have a healthier profile of probiotics compared to non-organic (for more about the benefits of organic produce, see this month’s lead story).

The healthy fiber in apples also supports satiety, which makes you feel fuller, longer. And that can help you lose weight.

Indeed, simply starting a meal with some apple slices can be an effective (and tasty) weight loss strategy. You can also add apples to green salads at the start of a meal, or serve them with roasted meats as a side.

Finally, you can choose to peel apples, but I advise eating them with the skin. Many of apples’ nutrients are concentrated in the skin…plus, the colorful outer layer adds to the delicious taste!