Nutrition Month with Cassandra Lepore, MS, RD

Nutrition Month with Cassandra Lepore, MS, RD

March was National Nutrition Month and this year, we partnered with Cassandra Lepore, MS, RD, and Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, to discuss healthy eating habits!

National Nutrition Month is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of nutrition and dietetics practitioners. Since 1917, the Academy has sought to improve global health and well-being through food and nutrition.

Read what we learned from Cassandra below.

Q: What do you hope folks get out of Nutrition Month?

This year's National Nutrition Month® theme is "Beyond the Plate," emphasizing that factors extending beyond mere nutrition and the foods we consume influence our overall health and wellness.

The theme encourages individuals to adopt a comprehensive approach to nutrition, directing attention towards broader lifestyle habits and routines rather than solely fixating on daily food intake. As a registered dietitian, I aspire for individuals to prioritize their holistic health and well-being this month, recognizing that nutrition constitutes merely a single facet of their overall wellness. The connection between nutrition and our well-being extends far beyond the table!

Q: How do apples compare to other fruits in regard to their nutritional value and health benefits? 

Apples pack a nutritious punch! They contain various vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and potassium, they’re rich in antioxidants, and they’re a good source of dietary fiber, with about 4.5 grams per serving.

Apples also contain a good amount of polyphenols, which possess antioxidant properties. These compounds can help fight off free radicals in the body and potentially have anti-inflammatory effects. Research indicates that consuming a polyphenol-rich diet can help protect individuals from developing diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In a 2022 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials published in Frontiers in Nutrition, findings indicated that consuming apples orally for more than a week led to reductions in total cholesterol and LDL levels compared to a placebo-controlled diet. This analysis further suggests that regular apple consumption may contribute to lowering the risk of CVD.

Despite the misconceptions surrounding their sugar content, apples actually contain natural sugars along with dietary fiber. Upon consumption, they elicit a gradual and consistent increase in blood sugar levels, as opposed to a sudden spike, primarily attributed to their dietary fiber content. The sugars they contain are natural and provide valuable nutrients that contribute to our overall health and well-being!

Q: How can individuals incorporate apples into their meals and snacks to promote better health?

You can enjoy apples on their own or easily incorporate them into your salads, sandwiches, soups, desserts, oatmeal bowls, and so much more!

For a balanced snack that’s filling and satiating, I recommend pairing the carbohydrates and fiber from the apple with your favorite protein or healthy fat source. Excellent protein sources that pair well with apples include cheese sticks, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. Great healthy fat sources include a handful of nuts or a spoonful of peanut butter.

However, be sure to consume the apple peel too - it's where the majority of the dietary fiber and nutrients reside! In a fascinating 2022 study published in Foods, researchers revealed that consuming both the apple peel and flesh resulted in a significantly higher antioxidant capacity than consuming just the flesh alone.

When it comes to apples, the possibilities are endless, and there are countless ways to savor them and incorporate them into your everyday meals and snacks!

Q: What is your favorite Yes! Apples variety and how are you snacking on them?

Answer: SnapDragon®! They’re sweet and subtly tart, with vanilla flavor, melon, and spice-filled undertones. My recent hyperfixation has been my take on an “Apple Cheesecake,” which only requires four ingredients SnapDragon® Apples, cream cheese, cinnamon, and honey. 

During busy workweeks, I often opt for a satisfying snack by combining an apple with a cheese stick. This balanced midday duo keeps me feeling energized and satisfied until my next meal or snack!