All about apples
Apples have been the icon for health for at least five thousand years throughout many different cultures! Did you know that around 900 AD Scandinavians used to bury their dead with a bundle of apples to “nourish them in the after-life?” Ancient Egyptians used to leave mummified apples in the tombs of their pharaohs, and Alexander the Great requested apple seeds and cuttings from trees to be brought to Greece to be cultivated by Aristotle! Varieties of apples and crab apples have been found in ancient Nepalese, Japanese, and even North American cultures! In the nineteenth century, the Welsh developed the saying, “Et an apple before gwain to bed maketh the doctor beg his bread.” In today’s society we still repeat our own modern version of this adage:
“An apple a day, keeps the doctor away!”
What is it about apples that has given them this “superstar” status among health foods? For one, they are packed with phytonutrients; potent plant compounds that have an amazing effect on our health. Apples commonly contain the nutrients: quercetin, catechin, chlorogenic acid, and anthocyanin which have all been shown to possess powerful antioxidant activity. These compounds have other benefits as well such as promoting cardiovascular health, and protecting delicate brain tissue from oxidative stress. People who eat apples have a reduced risk of developing diabetes, stroke, dementia, and obesity. Perhaps eating an apple a day might really add up to something!
Other amazing benefits
Apples contain other beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, especially vitamin C, and heart-healthy fiber. The skins of apples are particularly nutrient-dense and fibrous and should always be eaten. Because growing blemish-free apples can require heavy pesticide use, I recommend buying organic if you’re planning on eating the skins (which you should!) or scrubbing conventionally grown apples thoroughly before eating.
A few useful tips
If you want to pack as many nutrients into your diet as possible, there are a few tips and tricks you’ll want to know about!
The following varieties are the most nutritious; Braeburn, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Honey Crips, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith. These are your best bet in a supermarket.
If you have access to a farmers market, specialty store, or U-pick farm (or grow your own!) try selecting Spartan, Bramley’s Seedling, Golden Russet, Red Jonagold, McIntosh, Liberty, Haralson, Northern Spy, and Ozark Gold for a new texture and flavor experience.
When picking your fruit, look for skins that are deep red in color, meaning they were exposed to more sunlight and therefore contain more nutrients! For varieties which are gold or green (such as Granny Smith Apples), buy apples with rich, uniform color. They still have a high antioxidant content even though they aren’t red.
Although common, apples are delicious, nutrient-dense food that shouldn’t be forgotten during the hype of “pumpkin-spice” season! October is the best month for deliciously fresh apples so take full advantage!
Apples are extremely versatile and can be served so many different ways, you really can eat one each day! If you’re feeling inspired to include a few more apples in your daily fare; check out the following recipes:
Hope you enjoy them, let us know your thoughts!