Ah, the apple! One of the most cultivated fruits in the world, with more than 7,500 different types of apples available, the apple is likely one of the most well-known fruits on the planet. While you probably won’t find 7,500 different varieties of apples at your local grocery store, it’s a sure bet that most produce sections carry several different types of apples, from the green Granny Smith to the Red Delicious and the Golden Delicious, and many more.
Whether it’s eating an apple as a snack, apple butter, apple jelly, apple pie, applesauce, apple crisp, apple juice or any other apple concoction one can create, apples are a great source of meeting the recommended dietary fruit servings per day.
So why the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”?
Health Benefits of Apples
It’s really rather simple. Apples are chock full of vitamin C and antioxidants, and eating apples has been shown to help prevent several different types of cancer. High in flavonoids, phytonutrients, and other naturally health beneficial nutrients, apples are particularly tasty and useful for maintaining a healthy diet. High in fiber, bulky for the number of calories apples contain, apples may also help aid with weight loss and lowering cholesterol when eaten in place of higher fat and sugar content foods.
An average, medium-sized apple will contain about 75 calories with zero grams of fat, and because of the fiber, will help the dieter feel full faster than most junk food.
There’s even one study that indicates, because apples contain procyanidin B-2, a compound found to help with hair retention and growth, that eating an apple a day might just help you keep your hair! Apples are even believed to help with COPD, asthma and diabetes. In fact, apple sauce and apple juice are both natural sweetening agents in many diabetic processed foods on supermarket shelves.
Because of these and other health benefits from eating apples, it’s clear to see how an apple a day might not be such a bad idea!
Types of Apples
Not all apples are created equally. Some apples, such as the organish-red colored Braeburn apple, are juicy and sweet, while others, such as the green colored Granny Smith apple are tart and crisp.
Some apples, such as the McIntosh apple, are tart and perfect for baking in pies.
The McInstosh is a bit smaller, harder and tangier than the more common Red Delicious. The Rome Beauty apple is also ideal for baking and sautéing, little sweet butter and cinnamon in a pan-yummy! For a sweeter apple snack, ready to be eaten or used for salads, the Red Delicious apple is likely the best known apple of all, with a dark, rich red skin and crisp white interior fruit.
While some apples are available for purchase year-round, others are only available when in season. The local supermarket produce manager or a small local grocer should be able to provide more information about what apples are available in your area and when, as well as providing nutritional information about different apple varieties.
If you’d really like to try other types of apples, you can visit some of the road-side fruit stands in your area, or get online and search for companies that ship exotic and/or unusual fruits year-round. You just might be surprised how very different each variety of apples tastes.
For Halloween, candied and caramel apples make a fun treat to make and then decorate them like mini-jack-o-lanterns. I personally enjoy apple fondue, dipping apple slices on skewers into a chocolate fondue or caramel fondue sauce, and believe it or not, the tangy, zestier apples are great dipped in a fondue cheese sauce. You can also make caramel apple slices, just like you would a whole caramel apple, and satisfy that sweet tooth and get some health benefits too. It’s not as healthy as eating the apple whole and plain, but it’s better than just eating candy.
For some less healthy apple-type options, if you’ve never tried an apple martini, you just don’t know what you’re missing!
The USDA guidelines for healthy eating recommends several servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and apples are a great way to meet those dietary requirements. A medium-sized apple, one cup of applesauce (preferably unsweetened, since many apple sauces have high fructose corn syrup in them), or 6-8 ounces of natural apple juice would provide one tasty serving of fruit in your diet. Eating a whole apple is better for you than drinking juice, because you will be getting the bulk fiber of the apple that is drained from the juice.
Any way you slice it or bite into it, apples have some pretty amazing benefits for your health and they just taste good too. Next time you’re reaching for a junk food snack, do yourself and your health a favor, and grab a sweet, tangy, juicy apple instead!