Apples come in many varieties, so you can easily choose flavors and textures to suit your taste or cooking needs. The traditional, deep-hued Red Delicious apple is a perennial favorite, although many people prefer the flavor and texture of the newer varieties of sweet-tangy, crisp, bi-colored apples. Like something even more tart? Light green Granny Smith apples fill the bill and are great for cooking.
Put the health benefits of the amazing apple to work for you by adding this superfood fruit to your daily diet at least five times each week.
Health Benefits of Apple
The most potent flavonoid found in apples is quercetin, which is also a powerful antioxidant. Apples are an excellent source of fiber, too — one apple (with the skin) contains about five grams of fiber.
Much of the apple’s fiber and phytochemicals are found in the colorful exterior, so get into the habit of eating both the flesh and the skin.
The nutrients, fiber, and flavonoids in apples work to keep you healthy in several ways. In fact, research shows several benefits of eating apples.
1. Fight high blood pressure
According to The Journal of Nutrition in 2007, quercetin helps to lower blood pressure in humans. Some of the antioxidants in apples may also slow your digestion and sugar absorption. Eating one or more apples per day was linked to a 28% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in one study of 38,018 women.
2. Good for your lungs
The flavonoids work like antihistamines and anti-inflammatory agents to reduce the severity of asthma attacks and allergic symptoms. A 2001 study in The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine shows that people who eat five or more apples each week have a decreased risk of chronic lung disease.
3. Protect you from cancer
The journal Prostate reported in 2008 that, in laboratory tests, quercetin slows the growth of cancerous cells without harming prostate cells. The American Cancer Society suggests that eating a diet rich in fruits like apples may help to prevent a variety of cancers.
4. Keep your mind sharp and clear
Older people who eat more apples and drink apple juice may have stronger brain function. According to The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2006, flavonoids help protect your brain from free-radical damage.
5. Help you lose weight
Because apples are rich in fiber, they keep you feeling full longer so you’re less likely to snack on high-calorie snack foods. (An apple has only about 90 calories.) Their sweet, juicy flavor and crunchy texture make fresh apples a healthy dessert or afternoon snack.
6. Help maintain healthy digestion
Apples help maintain a healthy digestive system and regulate cholesterol levels. These benefits can also be credited to the high fiber content of apples.
7. Enhance Immunity
Apples help fight viral infections, like colds and flu, plus they keep connective tissue healthy. One apple contains about 8 milligrams of vitamin C (about 8 percent of the daily requirement).
Which apples are best for what?
Some apples are best for eating and some are better for cooking. Here’s a short list of some of the common apples and their best uses:
- For eating: Red Delicious, Gala, and Fuji
- For baking: Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Rome
- For applesauce: Cortland, Macintosh, and Jonathan
How to choose and store apples?
Apples are easy to find in every grocery store and even in many convenience stores. Look for apples that have shiny, smooth skins free from blemishes and punctures. During the fall months, look for local orchards or festivals that offer super-fresh apples, apple juice, and homemade applesauce.
Most of the apples you buy in the store have been covered with a clear, edible wax that helps to protect them during shipping. The wax helps keep moisture in the apples so they stay fresh and crisp all the way from the orchard to your table. You don’t need to remove the wax, but you should still wash apples before eating them.
For convenience, you can keep a few apples in a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter. However, apples stay fresher longer in cool air, so it’s best to store them in the refrigerator in a paper bag that is loosely closed.
Apples give off a gas called ethylene that actually makes some fruits (such as bananas, pears, peaches, and plums) ripen faster. This same gas can cause damage to some vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers. Keep an apple with green bananas to make them ripen more quickly, but keep apples away from the vegetable bin in your fridge.
How to eat apples?
Apples are quite versatile. An apple makes a great snack on its own or with a handful of healthful nuts, or you can slice it and spread peanut butter on each slice. Serve Granny Smith slices with blue cheese or brie and a glass of red wine.
If you’re looking for a delicious dessert, slice up a Granny Smith and top with a light drizzle of caramel sauce and some chopped pecans. During cooler weather, try some hot apple cider mulled with cinnamon and other spices to warm you up.