An Apple A Day Keeps Cholesterol At Bay

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If you don’t fancy chickpeas for breakfast (and really, why would you?) perhaps adding some apple to your daily granola is more appealing as a healthy diet change?

Though I never planned to add chickpeas to my breakfast fare, I did intend to add it to my daily diet. OK, weekly diet. Indeed, so intrigued was I to learn that chickpeas lower cholesterol (see, Don’t Like Oatmeal, Try Chickpeas!), that I decided it was a good idea to try to make my own hummus from scratch.

On Christmas Eve.

A good idea it was not.

My homemade hummus experiement failed epically. Hence my latest research into apples, which I cannot make from scratch.  Just add to my diet. (Maybe. As I dislike apples only slightly less than salad.)

But I digress.

TahiniLet me explain about the hummus.

First of all, have you ever tried to stir tahini?  No? Well, imagine stirring cement. Because that’s what it felt like. Check out this spoon standing up on it’s own, and just imagine the huge sucking sound when I tried to free the spoon from the evil tahini.

Let’s just say that the ensuing emergency load of laundry was not in the timeline for Christmas Eve preparations. So, um, things got a little messy.

But after a good ten minutes (and I am not exaggerating) I managed to get 1/3 cup of tahini into the food processor, along with the requisite amount of drained chickpeas, garlic, salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice, water and hot sauce.

Yet this time, both of my usually reliable cookbook resources failed me. Barefoot Contessa AND epicurious  both called for 4 cloves of garlic.  FOUR cloves.  And yet the title was not GARLIC hummus. Though it should have been.

I should have known  better.  It did strike me that 4 cloves of RAW garlic was going to be, um, garlicky.  But I like garlic.  And figured maybe it would be mitigated by the tahini (as if it might ‘cure’ the garlic or magically blanch it or something.) In the end, the fact that both recipes said to use 4 cloves gave me confidence. Which was misplaced. I served my Christmas Eve guests – who were all eager to try my homemade hummus – a mouthful of very raw, garlicky hummus.  Not ideal.

So we all had more to drink. Far more.

Also not the plan.

So I’ll now be buying my hummus from Trader Joe’s.  And this epic fail left me searching for a different cholesterol-lowering food I could easily add to my daily diet.

Which is where apples come in.

Now unlike chickpeas, my doctor definitely told me to eat apples. And for a while there, I dutifully added sliced apples to my daily oatmeal. But that oatmeal gave way to a bagel and lox, so the apple thing didn’t last long.

As I threw my tahini-strewn shirt into the washing machine, I got to wondering what it was about apples that was good for lowering cholesterol.  I knew about dietary fiber, but was there another, compelling reason to add apples to my diet?

What I learned is that apples pack more cholesterol-lowering punch than just dietary fiber. They are rich in phytonutrients, which  help regulate blood sugar…and are also flush with Vitamin C and with antioxidants, which attack free radicals.

Blah, blah, blah…  Apples are good for you. Yeah, I know, my doctor told me to eat them. But why? Are they just healthy, or do they actually help lower cholesterol?

Yes, Virginia, they do.

As I explained in Health Benefits of Apples, actual research studies have proven that apples lower cardiac disease risk:

The Iowa Women’s Health Study reported that, among the 34,000-plus women it’s been tracking for nearly 20 years, apples were associated with a lower risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.”  In a very specific small study conducted in 2011, Florida State University researchers asked 160 women aged 45-65 to eat dried apples or prunes every day; they proved that in just 6 months, LDL (bad) cholesterol was reduced by 23% and HDL (good) cholesterol rose by 4%.

Now as it happens I don’t love raw apples (though I do enjoy them, if someone (else) slices them and sprinkles them with cinnamon or dices them for oatmeal), but dried apples as a snack could be something I can easily add to my diet.

So I’m off to Trader Joe’s to buy some hummus AND some dried apples.

And I think I’ll get some raw apples, too. Because hey, maybe I can convince my husband to slice them for me. And then I can try – just once this week – to have oatmeal for breakfast instead of my beloved half-bagel and lox.

I’m going for a valiant effort at eating some cholesterol-lowering food … that has zero chance of resulting in additional laundry.



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