They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but how many fresh apples have you actually eaten lately? Sure, if you’re already on board the health and wellness bandwagon, the answer is plenty.
But if you’re not the biggest fan of fruit and your idea of getting your fill is to have a second helping of that old-fashioned apple pie, well, odds are it’s been a while. If you want to trick yourself into eating apples more often, the answer may be to slice them first.
Even in schools that are serving healthier lunches, students tend to throw their fruit away. We speculate that it's because kids don't like being told what to do or that they probably prefer other, not so healthy, food. While these reasons may hold water in certain cases, one study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, decided to delve deeper and investigate whether there was more to why so many apples end up in the trash.
After interviewing children at various schools, the researchers found that students with small mouths or braces find eating whole fresh fruit difficult. Additionally, older girls said eating whole fruits was messy and unattractive.
Would slicing the apples make a difference?
The research team set out to determine the effect of offering pre-sliced fruit in schools on selection and intake.
Three of six schools were assigned randomly to serve sliced apples, while three control schools served whole ones. Selection, consumption, and waste of apples were measured prior to and during treatment.
Treatment schools were provided with a standard commercial fruit slicer, and cafeteria staff members were instructed to use it when students requested apples. Trained researchers recorded how much of each apple was consumed and how much was wasted in both control and treatment schools. More specifically, they tracked daily apple sales, percentage of an apple serving consumed per student and percentage of an apple serving wasted per student.
Data were analyzed in 2012. Schools that used fruit slicers to pre-slice fruit increased average daily apple sales by 71% compared to control schools. The percentage of students who selected apples and ate more than half increased by 73% at schools that served pre-sliced fruit, and the percentage that wasted half or more decreased by 48%.
The researchers concluded that children consider sliced fruit more appealing than whole fruit because it is easier and tidier to eat.
A little bit of convenience can promote not only healthier eating in children but also decrease food waste. So if you want to get better about eating your daily recommended fruit servings, get thee a fruit slicer or invest in a good knife and have at it.
We know what you're thinking. How do you keep your apple slices from turning browning? Easy! Before you slice them, prepare a 50/50 pineapple/water mix. After you thoroughly wash your apples, slice and add them to the mixture. Lemon juice works, too. The citrus slows down the browning process.
You can leave the apples in the mixture for up to four, sometimes even five days. So there you go. No more excuses.