The apple (Malus pumila) is a member of the rose family, along with the pear. It is a crisp, white ﬂeshed fruit with a red, yellow, or green skin. In the United States, more than twenty-ﬁve varieties of apples are available; they vary not only in color and appearance but also in sweetness, ﬂavor, and tartness. For example, Golden and Red delicious apples are mild and sweet while Pippins and Granny Smith apples are notably brisk and tart.
Tart apples are better able to retain their texture during cooking, while sweeter varieties, such as Delicious, Braeburn and Fuji apples, are usually eaten raw. Most supermarkets in the U.K. sell about eight varieties (and about 70 percent of apples sold) but there are approximately 2,040 varieties at the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale. The most popular varieties are Royal Gala, Jonagold, Braeburn, Fiesta and Cox’s Orange Pippin.
History of Apple
The original apple tree is thought to have grown in Eastern Europe and southwestern Asia but has now spread to most temperate regions of the world. There are now over 7,000 varieties of apples in the market as a result of cultivation and hybridization. The apple holds a special place in many historical and mythical realms, beginning with the biblical story of Adam and Eve. In Norse mythology, apples were believed to keep people young forever.
The apple has been used as a symbol in many classic stories (e.g., “Snow White”). One story that is based on irrefutable fact is the legend of Johnny Appleseed——a real person named John Chapman, who in the 1800s walked barefoot across an area of 100,000 square miles in the United States planting apple trees that provided food and a livelihood for generations of settlers.
Nutritional Highlights of Apple
Apples are an excellent source of vitamin C, pectin, and other ﬁbers. They are also a good source of potassium. Most of the apple’s important nutrients are contained in its skin, and raw apples are higher in many nutrients and phytochemicals as well.’ If apples are raw and unpeeled, they are a great source of many important phytochemicals, such as ellagic acid and ﬂavonoids (especially quercetin). For example, fresh whole apples and fresh apple juice contain approximately 100-130 milligrams per 100 grams of ellagic, chlorogenic, and caffeic acids.
The content of these compounds in cooked or commercial apple products, however, is at or near zero. A 100 gram serving of apple is one small apple (four per pound/1/2 kilogram) and provides 52 calories, 0.3 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of fat, and 12.8 grams of carbohydrate with 2.4 grams of ﬁber and 10.4 grams as natural sugars. For comparison, a medium-sized apple (three per pound/% kilogram) provides 72 calories, 0.4 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of fat, and 19.1 grams of carbohydrates with 3.3 grams of ﬁber and 14.3 grams of sugars.
A 100 gram serving of dried apple provides 243 calories, 0.9 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of fat, and 65.9 grams of carbohydrate with 8.7 grams of ﬁber and 57.2 grams of sugars; this serving also provides a whopping 450 milligrams of potassium.
Health Benefits of Apple
The old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” appears to be true. In an analysis of more than eighty-ﬁve studies, apple consumption was shown to be consistently associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma, and type 2 diabetes compared to other fruits and vegetables. In one of the studies evaluated, researchers in Finland followed more than 5,000.
Finnish men and women for more than twenty years. Those who ate the most apples and other ﬂavonoid-rich foods, such as onions and tea, were found to have a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who ate the smallest amount of these foods.
In another study, apple consumption was linked to a lower risk for asthma. When nearly 1,500 adults in the United Kingdom were asked about their eating habits during the previous year, the investigators found that people who ate at least two apples each week had a 22 to 32 percent lower risk of developing asthma than those who ate less of this fruit.
Researchers feel that much of apple’s protective effects against heart disease and asthma is related to its high content of ﬂavonoids like quercetin. Apples are also very high in pectin, a soluble ﬁber that has been shown to exert a number of beneﬁcial effects. Because it is a gel—forming ﬁber, pectin can lower cholesterol levels as well as improve the intestinal muscle’s ability to push waste through the gastrointestinal tract. One medium (140 gram) unpeeled apple provides 3 grams of ﬁber, more than 10 percent of the daily ﬁber intake recommended by experts.
Even without its peel, a medium apple provides 2.7 grams of ﬁber. Adding just one large apple (about I75 grams) to the daily diet has been shown to decrease serum cholesterol by 8 to 11 percent. Eating two large apples a day has lowered cholesterol levels by up to 16 percent.
Apples’ insoluble ﬁber and pectin both help promote bowel regularity, relieving both constipation and diarrhea. In fact, one well-known over-the-counter diarrhea remedy, Kaopectate, actually contains a form of pectin.
How to Select and Store Appl
As stated above, there are many varieties of apples. So, when it comes to selection, it depends on your palate whether you prefer a sweeter or more tart apple and whether you like to have your apple baked or raw. As a guideline, the Red and Golden Delicious apples are among the sweetest, while the Braeburn and Fuji are only slightly tart. The tartest apples are the Gravenstein, Pippin, and Granny Smith. While these apples may be too tart for some, they retain their texture best during cooking, where the Bramley comes into its own.
In the Northern Hemisphere, apple season begins at the end of summer and runs until early winter. Apples that you see available at other times of the year have been in cold storage or imported from different parts of the world. Whenever possible, it is strongly encouraged to buy organic fruit. To certify that it is organic, in the U.K. the fruit will carry a Soil Association label. Nonorganic apples are sprayed with many dangerous chemicals, especially pesticides.
Furthermore, nonorganic apples are often waxed to prolong their freshness. However, do not be confused and try to determine if the apple is organic by the waxiness because even organic apples will appear waxy due to their natural coating.
Also, apples should be ﬁrm, crisp, and well colored. Apples that are immature and ripened artiﬁcially will be less vibrant. Mature apples produce a characteristic snap when you apply ﬁngernail pressure to break the skin. These have more color and enhanced ﬂavor and will store longer. Conversely, overripe apples feel softer when pressure is applied to the skin.
1. Health Benefits of Apples
2. Health Benefits of Bananas
3. Health Benefits of Honey
4. Health Benefits of Ginger
5. Health Benefits of Garlic
6. Health Benefits of Lemon
7. Health Benefits of Pumpkin
8. Health Benefits of Watermelons
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Tips for Preparing Apple
Wash organically grown apples gently by rinsing them under cool water and patting them dry with a paper towel. Nonorganic apples should be sprayed with a solution of diluted additive free soap or commercial produce wash and then washed gently under cool running water, then patted dry.
As discussed above, for maximum nutritional beneﬁt, apples should be consumed in their fresh form—either whole or sliced, or as fresh apple juice. In juicing, apples mix very well with other fruit as well as vegetables, because of their sweet but not overpowering ﬂavor. Since there are very small amounts of cyanide in the seeds of apples, many people recommend that you core apples to remove the seeds before eating.
This probably is a good idea when eating apples, but the amount of cyanide in the apple seed is below a level that is of concern. If you are making juice in a commercial juicer, it is not necessary, since there is very little liquid in the seed. To prevent browning when slicing apples for a recipe, simply put the slices in a bowl of cold water with a spoonful of lemon juice added.
Quick Serving Ideas Apple
• Add diced apples to fruit or green salads.
• Lightly sauté slices from one apple with one diced potato and onion.
• Lightly sauté slices from one apple with a few raisins, sprinkle with ground cinnamon, cloves, or ginger, add a few chopped walnuts, then use as a ﬁlling for a nutritious omelet.
• For an unusual dessert, skewer apple chunks on cinnamon sticks and bake at 350 degrees F./ 180 degrees C./ gas 4 for 25 minutes.
• Sliced apples (either alone or with other fruit or nuts) and cheese are a favorite European dessert.
As apples are among the top foods containing pesticide residues, we recommend selecting organically grown apples. Also, see “How to Select and Store,” above. If you purchase dried apples, avoid products preserved with sulphur dioxide or sulphites.