Apples are a member of the rose plant family, a diverse group that also includes almonds, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, and raspberries. Throughout the world, there are 75,000 varieties of apples grown.
The results of numerous studies suggest that the old adage – “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – has merit.
According to the George Mateljan Foundation, apples provide a number of health benefits.
As a good source of fiber and antioxidants, they reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. They also contain phytonutrients that assist in the regulation of blood sugar. In addition, studies have shown that daily apple consumption is associated with reduced risk of asthma, which is unsurprising, given that apples have anti-inflammatory effects.
There is evidence that apples may be particularly good for weight loss as well. Research has shown that those who eat apples 15 minutes before meals decrease their average calorie intake by more than the calories in an apple; in other words, they consume fewer calories overall. There is also some evidence that apple consumption may reduce the risk of certain age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration.
Apples are available in three colours: gold, green, and red, and their flavors in all color categories range from mild sweetness to tartness (the latter tend to be better for baking because they retain their texture when cooked). If you’re eating apples for the health benefits, choose whole apples over juice – intact apples are richer in fiber and beneficial phytonutrients. You can also increase the health benefits of apples by eating the skins, which are particularly nutrient-rich (two-thirds of the fiber and much of the antioxidant content is located in the peel). Buy organic apples if possible, or rinse apples thoroughly with water while gently rubbing the apple skin to remove pesticide residues.
According to the University of Illinois Extension, apples will ripen up to 10 times faster at room temperature than they will in the refrigerator, which is something to keep in mind when storing them. The University of Maryland also notes that apples (as well as peaches, plums, pears, and muskmelons) give off ethylene gas when stored, which can cause potatoes to sprout, so it’s best not to store these items in proximity to one another.
George Mateljan Foundation, “Apples,” World’s Healthiest Foods, 2012.
University of Maryland, Maryland Cooperative Extension, Root Cellars, Post-Harvest Treatment and Low-Cost Storage of Produce, n.d.
University of Illinois Extension, “Apple Facts,” 2012.
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