Apples: The Not-So-Forbidden Fruit
Apple cider, apple juice, apple pie, applesauce, apple crisp, apple cake…the list goes on and on! The ubiquitous apple conjures up a number of images—the heralding of autumn, the most predictable food in the lunch bag, the comforting aromas of Thanksgiving pies, and a symbol that has become associated with health.
Apples are so common that they are often taken for granted. But whether you’re an apple polisher, an apple eater, a bad apple, the apple of someone’s eye, or as American as apple pie, there’s still a lot to learn about this delicious, nutritious, and versatile fruit. For example, did you know the following facts:
- 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the US (100 of which are grown commercially)
- 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world
- Apple pie may be American, but Europe, France, Italy, and Germany are the leading producers of apples
- 61 percent of apples in the US are eaten as fresh fruit
How Do You Like These Apples?
Apples are delicious, low in calories, portable, versatile, and inexpensive. And apples come in many shades of red, green, and yellow, making them just as pleasing to the eye as to the palate.
Apples can be sweet, tart, crisp, and crunchy, or soft and smooth, depending on the type you choose. There’s a type of apple to suit almost anyone’s taste, but most people have only tried a few of the common types. Some of the most popular varieties of apples in the US include:
- Red Delicious—most common apple; deep red skin; purported to contain the highest level of antioxidants out of all apple varietals; sweet, crispy, and juicy; best eaten fresh or in salads
- Golden Delicious—yellow skin; mellow and sweet; good choice for salads and other dishes
- Fuji—yellow or red skin; sweet and firm; available year round
- Granny Smith—green skin; very tart; works well as a snack and in pie and sauce
- Gala—cream, yellow, or red striped flesh; crispy, juicy, and very sweet; ideal for snacks
- Rome Beauty—mildly tart; used primarily for cooking
- McIntosh—tangy tart; best for snacking, applesauce, and pie
- Idared—tangy and firm; good for snacking and holds its shape for baking
- Jonathan—spicy tangy; used in pie, applesauce, and cider
- Empire—crisp, juicy, sweet-tart; good all-purpose apple
- Cortland—sweeter than MacIntosh; excellent for salads, kabobs, and garnishes
- Newtown Pippin—green skin; aromatic and tangy; great for pie and applesauce
Other popular varieties of apples include Braeburn, Cameo, Ginger gold, HoneyCrisp, and Pink Lady.
Apples have many nutrition benefits. They are low in calories, have no fat, and are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. A study published in the September 2002 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that the flavonoids (plant pigments with antioxidant activity) found in apples may reduce the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and asthma. Quercetin, an antioxidant flavonoid found in high concentrations in apples, is thought to be responsible for apples' potential benefit in preventing lung cancer. Quercetin also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Apples are also found to be helpful in regulating the function of the gastrointestinal system. The pectin in apples absorbs water in the gastrointestinal tract, which helps in producing stool bulk.
In addition, there is some evidence that consuming 5 or more apples per week can improve lung function.
This chart shows the nutrient content of one apple.
|One medium (2-1/2 inch) apple, fresh, raw, with skin|
|Dietary fiber||4 grams|
|Calcium||10 milligrams (mg)|
|Vitamin C||8 mg|
|Vitamin A||73 IU|
|Folate||4 micrograms (mcg)|
Selection and Storage
For the most appetizing apple-eating experience, follow these tips for selecting, storing, and preparing apples:
- Choose apples that are free of bruises, and handle them with care to avoid bruising.
- For the best flavor and crunchiness, choose apples that are firm.
- Keep apples in the refrigerator to slow ripening and retain flavor. Refrigerated apples can last for 90 days or more.
- When storing apples, keep them away from pungent foods. This will prevent them from absorbing unpleasant odors.
- Wash apples in cool water before serving.
- To prevent browning when cutting, slicing, or dicing apples, coat them with a 50:50 solution of water and lemon juice or 100% apple juice.
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 cup apple juice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ½ cup sugar
- 8 Gala or Golden Delicious apples
- 3 tablespoons brandy
- ½ cup crème fraiche
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine vinegar, juice, butter, and sugar in a 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish. Cut off top ¾ inch of apples to make lids. Scoop out cores with a melon-ball cutter and replace lids. Put apples in baking dish and cover with foil. Bake in middle of oven until very tender but still intact, 1 to 1 ¼ hours.
Transfer apples to plates and boil pan juices with brandy in a saucepan until reduced to about 1 cup. Fill apples with crème fraiche and serve with sauce.
Makes 8 servings.
Source: Gourmet, October 2001
- 2 cups sliced apples
- 2 cups shredded salad greens
- 1 package (9 oz.) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
- 1-cup fresh strawberries
- ½ cup thinly sliced celery
- ¼ cup sliced green onions
- 3 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
- Dash white pepper
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (optional)
Combine apple juice concentrate, corn syrup, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic salt, and pepper. Cover dressing and refrigerate.
Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and cool thoroughly. In large mixing bowl, combine tortellini and remaining ingredients. Toss gently with apple juice dressing and serve immediately. Makes six 1-1/3 cup servings.
Source: Michigan Apple Committee
American Dietetic Association
US Apple Association
Knekt P, Kumpulainen RJ, et al. Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic diseases. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2002:76:560-568.
U.S. Apple Association. Available at: http://www.usapple.org.
Washington Apple Commission. Available at: http://www.bestapples.com/.
Last reviewed July 2008 by Dianne Scheinberg MS, RD, LDN
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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