The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, began last night at sundown. To celebrate the start of a new year (per the Jewish calendar), those who observe eat a symbolic meal of apples and honey to represent hopes for sweetness in the months to come.

And while they're a meaningful symbol for many, the duo of foods could also be viewed as nutritional powerhouses. Fiber and antioxidant-rich apples help control appetite, reduce the risk of some chronic diseases and aid digestion. Honey has antimicrobial properties and acts as an effective cough suppressant, immune booster and topical skin treatment.

Want to learn more? Click on for all the ways that apples and honey maintain and sustain our health.

And for our readers who are celebrating the new year, we hope it is a sweet and healthy one!

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  • Apples Lower Cholesterol

    One medium-sized apple contains about <a href="http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1809/2" target="_hplink">four grams of fiber</a>. Some of that is in the form of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that has been linked to <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Heart_Letter/2009/October/11-foods-that-lower-cholesterol" target="_hplink">lower levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol</a>. That's because it <a href="http://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20110412/apple-good-for-your-heart" target="_hplink">blocks <em>absorption</em> of cholesterol</a>, according to WebMD, helping the body to use it rather than store it. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/steenbergs/5003036427/" target="_hplink">Steenbergs</a></em>

  • Apples Keep You Full

    Apple's wealth of fiber can also keep you feeling full for longer without costing you a lot of calories -- there are about 95 in a medium-sized piece of fruit. That's because it takes our bodies longer to digest complex fiber than more simple materials like sugar or refined grains. Anything with at least <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/high-fiber-foods_n_1543165.html#slide=1019942" target="_hplink">three grams of fiber is a good source</a> of the nutrient; most people should aim to get about <a href="http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309085373 " target="_hplink">25 to 40 grams a day</a>. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joe57spike/5937593705/" target="_hplink">byJoeLodge</a></em>

  • Apples Keep You Slim

    One component of an apple's peel (which also has most of the fiber) is something called ursolic acid, which was <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620212855.htm" target="_hplink">linked to a lower risk of obesity</a> in a recent study in mice. That's because it <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/06/21/apple-peel-compound-boosts-calorie-burning-reduces-obesity-in-mice_n_1614858.html" target="_hplink">boosts calorie burn and increases muscle and brown fat</a>, HuffPost UK reported. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasilof/5082397989/" target="_hplink">PLR_Photos</a></em>

  • Apples Prevent Breathing Problems

    Five or more apples a week (<em>less</em> than an apple a day!) has been linked with <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20405639_3,00.html" target="_hplink">better lung function</a>, <em>Health</em> magazine reported, most likely <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1343502.stm" target="_hplink">because of an antioxidant called quercetin</a> found in the skin of apples (as well as in onions and tomatoes), the BBC reported. And the breath benefits of apples extend even further: A 2007 study found that women who eat plenty of the fruit are <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/04/12/us-apples-asthma-idUSCOL25916220070412" target="_hplink">less likely to have children with asthma</a>. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/londonlooks/5011156498/" target="_hplink">London looks</a></em>

  • Apples Fight Colds

    While they don't quite rival <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/vitamin-c-foods_n_1457397.html" target="_hplink">oranges</a>, apples <em>are</em> considered a good source of immune system-boosting vitamin C, with over <a href="http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1809/2" target="_hplink">8 milligrams per medium-sized fruit</a>, which amounts to roughly 14 percent of your daily recommended intake. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/free-stock/4899674251/" target="_hplink">Public Domain Photos</a></em>

  • Apples May Fight Cancer

    In 2004, French research found that a chemical in apples <a href="http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20041018/apple-day-for-cancer-prevention" target="_hplink">helped prevent colon cancer</a>, WebMD reported. And in 2007, a study from Cornell found additional compounds, called triterpenoids, which seem to <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070601181005.htm" target="_hplink">fight against liver, colon and breast cancers</a>. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/21524179@N08/2086139540/" target="_hplink">nerissa's ring</a></em>

  • Apples Decrease Diabetes Risk

    A 2012 study published in the <em>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</em> found that <a href="http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2012/02/20/ajcn.111.028894.abstract?sid=27948d70-4410-4250-8df4-da2a5954918d" target="_hplink">apples, as well as pears and blueberries</a>, were linked with a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/curcumin-diabetes-type-2-turmeric-curry-spice_n_1720326.html#slide=1302487" target="_hplink">lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes</a> because of a class of antioxidants, <a href="http://www.sharecare.com/question/what-are-anthocyanins" target="_hplink">anthocyanins</a>, that are also responsible for red, purple and blue colors in fruits and veggies. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oth313/1760303362/" target="_hplink">oth313</a></em>

  • Apples Boost Brain Power

    The fruit has been linked to an uptick in acetylcholine production, <em>Good Housekeeping</em> reported, which communicates between nerve cells, so <a href="http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/nutrition/apple-health-benefits" target="_hplink">apples may help your memory</a> and lower your chances of developing Alzheimer's. A diet rich in antioxidants may have similar effects, so apples, since they are <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041116215006.htm" target="_hplink">particularly rich in quercetin</a>, are a good bet, according to 2004 research. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/olmanson/3971847536/" target="_hplink">Shaina Olmanson / Food for My Family</a></em>

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  • Topical Antibiotic

    Skin ailments -- everything from burns and scrapes to surgical incisions and <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3787867.stm" target="_hplink">radiation-associated ulcers</a> -- have been shown to respond to "honey dressings." That's thanks to the hydrogen peroxide <a href="http://bio.waikato.ac.nz/honey/selection.shtml" target="_hplink">that naturally exists</a> in honey, which is produced from an enzyme that bees have.

  • Mosquito Bite Itch Relief

    As <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/20/natural-mosquito-bite-treatment_n_1610186.html#slide=1116646" target="_hplink">we reported earlier this summer</a>, honey's anti-inflammatory properties make it a good option to help reduce the itch and irritation of mosquito bites.

  • Immune Booster

    Honey is <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19021816" target="_hplink">chock full of polyphenols</a>, a type of antioxidant that helps to protect cells from free radical damage -- it can also contribute to heart health and protect against cancer.

  • Digestive Aid

    In a 2006 study published in <em>BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine</em>, <a href="http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/6/6" target="_hplink">researchers found</a> that substituting honey for sugar in processed foods improved the gut microflora of male mice.

  • Acne Treatment

    <a href="http://muir.massey.ac.nz/handle/10179/2997" target="_hplink">According to preliminary research</a>, Manuka and Kanuka types of honey are effective to treat Acne vulgaris, the skin condition that is caused by inflammation and infection of the pilosebaceous follicle on the face, back and chest.