Here's a very simple idea: golden apples should permanently add 1 heart to one's life bar, up to a limit of 10 (making 20 max health in all), rather than heal 10 hearts. As it is, golden apples are a joke considering how much rare, nonrenewable gold goes into them (8 blocks, or 72 ores). And regular apples are rare as well. So the golden apple should do something notable of similar magnitude of usefulness. (And it would give another legitimate use for gold, which is badly needed at the moment, considering that golden apples as they currently stand are not really practical for what effect they have).
I approve, 72 gold is a lot to pay for 2.5 cooked pork chops. Maybe have it so you only respawn with ten filled to reduce the effectiveness of stashing all your items in a chest and throwing yourself off a cliff to heal. (Yes, people do that to save food.)
Interesting proposal. Golden apples are pretty hard to come by, whether from stumbling upon them in a dungeon or creating them with apples and gold (which are both fairly uncommon). This might be an nifty addition.
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Don't pick your nose with a pickaxe. Use a shovel.