We have all heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” While there is no actual scientific evidence to back up that statement, or to the myth that apples promise “everlasting youth,” eating an apple a day certainly can’t hurt. Apples are very good for you.
Apples are also very diet-friendly. Besides being reasonably low in calories–about 80 calories in a medium-sized apple–apples are packed with health-promoting nutrients. Fresh apples are rich in the B complex vitamins and calcium, iron, phosphorous, and potassium. They are also an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, yet surprisingly easy to digest due to the high pectin content. Just one apple contains 3 grams of fiber, which is 15% of the daily recommended amount. Be sure to eat the entire apple (except for the seeds) to get the full nutritional value. Many people discard the peel, which is a big mistake because much of the apple’s nutritional value is concentrated there.
In fact, a type of phytochemical called phenolics found abundantly in apple skin offers excellent antioxidant protection. For example, the flavonoid quercetin is one of a variety of phenolic compounds in apples that inhibits oxidation of LDL cholesterol and is also believed to be anti-carcinogenic. Another flavonoid in apple skin called phlorizin reduces inflammation associated with bone loss in menopause.
The glucose and fructose in apples provide energy, but in a much healthier way than filling up on other high carbohydrate snacks like donuts and candy. As long as you eat an apple as is or stick to healthy recipes like the ones in the Nutrition Factors database, apples can help rather than hinder weight loss. Fat, cholesterol, and sodium won’t be a problem either because apples don’t have any! Apples are very heart healthy. However, diabetics should probably limit themselves to no more than one apple daily at most so their glucose levels won’t spike.
Selecting and Storing Apples
When shopping for apples, your best bet to select those that are already fully ripe Look for apples that are bright in color, have a fresh aroma and are heavy and firm. Avoid lightweight apples and those with punctures, bruises, or blemishes.
Fresh apples are perishable, so don’t store them at room temperature unless they will be eaten within two days. However, refrigerated apples, stored in a ventilated plastic bag, can maintain their quality for a couple of weeks. When refrigerating apples, be sure to keep them separate from cruciferous vegetables and salad greens because the ethylene gas apples emit can cause these vegetables to spoil.
Just before use, apples should always be washed under clean running cold water. This will greatly minimize the possibility of pesticide contamination. For added protection, consider buying apples that are certified organic, which have no wax coating and are free of pesticides. To learn more tips and tricks to picking the perfect apple make sure to check out our Nutrition Factors Library.
Varieties of Apples
Apples pair beautifully with many other foods. Apples taste great with cheese, nuts, and peanut butter and, of course, other fruits. Apples also compliment celery, red cabbage, and pork in various recipes. This fall fruit also pairs very well with such flavorings and spices as caramel, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger. You are limited only by your own creativity, as that’s how many different recipes and recipe variations are possible with apples.
Deciding how you like “Them Apples” aren’t the only challenge you face. You also need to know which type of apple to buy depending on how you want to prepare and serve it. Before reading the answer in the next paragraph, try to guess how many different varieties of apples there are both worldwide and in the U.S. Then you will see why being knowledgeable about which varieties are best for different purposes is a must.
Did you guess 100 different varieties of apples or fewer? Did you guess 1,000 varieties? Not even close! You may be surprised that there are actually more than 7,500 varieties of apples worldwide and about 2,500 varieties here in the U.S.! But don’t worry; the overwhelming majority have no commercial significance so you don’t need to be concerned with them. Here we will only list those varieties you are most likely to find in your local supermarket and how to distinguish among them. We will also tell you which ones taste best raw, which are best for cooking and baking, and which taste great either raw or cooked.
Apple Varieties That Taste Best Raw:
Red Delicious apples are the most popular variety in the U.S. and rightly so. When eaten raw, they live up to their name. They are crisp, sweet, and juicy and taste delicious. Red delicious apples have thin textured bright red skin and are more elongated in shape than other common apple varieties. Unfortunately, the flavor and texture do not stand up well to cooking, but when served raw, they can and should be eaten in their entirety
Fuji apples originated in Japan and were introduced to the U.S. in the 1980s. The peel is red with golden highlights and the inside crisp and sweet with a touch of spice. Like Red Delicious apples, they taste best raw. Fuji apples can keep longer than other sweet apple varieties.
Gala apples have a yellow-orange peel with pinkish red stripes. A favorite of Queen Elizabeth II, they are sweet and aromatic, which makes them an excellent choice in salads and for making cider. Since they are crisp and juicy, they’re ideal for snacking, too, and pair especially well with cheese and nuts. However, Gala apples lose their fragrance and become rubbery in the oven, so they are not recommended for baking.
Varieties Eaten both Raw and Cooked:
Golden Delicious apples, unlike Red Delicious apples, are equally delicious either raw or cooked. They are easily recognized by their sometimes freckled golden yellow skin. They are a great choice for salads because they won’t brown as quickly as other types of apples when sliced. Their sweet and mild flavor also makes them perfect for snacking. Since Golden Delicious apples soften quickly, they are also very well suited for making applesauce and muffins.
McIntosh apples are grown in the U.S. in the East and Midwest. They can be recognized by their round shape and deep red skin with a green blush. McIntosh apples are very juicy, but also slightly tart. You might not be able to find them during the summer months. They are fine to eat either raw or cooked, as you prefer, and are a particularly good choice for making applesauce.
Jonathan apples are bright red with yellow undertones and smaller in size than other apple varieties. They are fine eaten raw or, alternatively, work well in recipes for applesauce or apple pie. Jonathan apples are in season from September through March only.
Pippin apples have a yellow-green peel with a tinge of red. We recommend them in recipes for apple butter, jelly, and cider.
Braeburn apples are originally from New Zealand. The peel is yellow with an overlay of red. If you like your apples firm in texture and both crisp and juicy with a flavor that’s a cross between sweet and tart, you will like these aromatic apples. Braeburn apples can be used in salads, as well as in recipes for applesauce or apple pie.
Granny Smith apples, which originated in Australia, but are now readily available in the U.S., are green rather than red on the outside. They are a good choice for those who like their apples somewhat tart. Granny Smith apples retain their shape and texture very well in baking, making them a good choice in apple pie recipes. They are also a good choice in cabbage slaws.
Apple Varieties Intended Primarily for Cooking:
Unlike the above-listed varieties, these types don’t taste their best raw, so we recommend cooking them first.
These tiny apples are about the size of a large cherry tomato. But unlike cherry tomatoes, they are too tart to enjoy raw. However, their high pectin content makes them ideally suited for use in apple butter and jelly recipes.
This apple did not originate in Rome, Italy, but in Rome, Ohio. Like many other apple varieties, Rome Beauty apples are red on the outside. However, they are too bland and mealy to be enjoyed raw. On the other hand, they retain their shape and flavor very well well during baking. Rome apples are in season from October through July.
Apples are one of mother nature’s most versatile fruits. For example, they can be added to cereal, salads, or smoothies, served as a snack with cheese or peanut butter, or used in recipes for baked goods, and those are only some of the possibilities. Here are four recipes from the Nutrition Factors Database, each calling for a different type of apple. We think you’ll be tempted to try all of them.
Apple Cheddar Pizza with Toasted Pecans
This pizza recipe is a good meatless alternative for either lunch or dinner. Both dishes are high in protein so you won’t need another entrée.A sweet and savory snack-time treat that is a breeze to make with ready-made dough. For directions, food Nutrition Facts label, and more recipes details CLICK HERE
Mom’s Thin Pancakes with Applesauce
This pancakes recipe is perfect for a weekend brunch that the whole family can enjoy. These thin pancakes make a delicious and easy breakfast! Filled with fresh applesauce and topped with creamy yogurt they make a great healthy alternative to regular pancakes! Get your kids involved for a fun family meal. For this recipe’s instructions and nutritional facts CLICK HERE
Apple Oat Bran Muffins
Nothing says loving like a muffin from the oven, especially when it’s as good for you as it is good tasting, like these yummy oat bran muffins made with Golden Delicious apples. Each muffin contains only 129 calories, along with 4 grams protein and 2 grams dietary fiber, making it an excellent alternative to toast for breakfast. Hold the butter! These muffins don’t need any topping at all! To get more muffin details, directions, and food Nutrition Facts label information CLICK HERE
Apple Almond Smoothie
This delicious drink is made with two fresh fruits–Fuji apple and banana–and also contains vanilla almond milk and a sprinkling of chia seeds, making it a surprisingly good source of protein, dietary fiber, and potassium, for only 195 calories. Chia seeds are rich in heart healthy Omega-free fatty acids and are known for their extraordinary antioxidant value, too. So if they’re new to you, this drink is a great way to introduce you to this super healthy food. CLICK HERE for directions, food Nutrition Facts label, and more recipes details.
Apple Cabbage Salad
This side dish salad recipe combines Granny Smith raw apple with one of the top fall cruciferous vegetables–cabbage. So in each 148 calorie serving, you are getting plenty of fiber, vitamins C and K, the B vitamins, and other essential nutrients. To get more muffin details, directions, and food Nutrition Facts label information CLICK HERE
Apple Fruit Cocktail
Red Delicious apples are even more delicious when combined with other fresh fruits in a colorful fruit cocktail. This particular recipe works equally well as an appetizer or dessert and is fancy enough to serve to company. How can you or anyone you serve it to turn down a mélange of fresh apple, pineapple, orange, and grapes with an orange, lemon, and cinnamon flavored apple juice syrup? Yet this diet-friendly recipe provides 4 grams of dietary fiber and over 400 mg. of potassium but only 179 calories per serving and no saturated or trans fat or cholesterol at all! For this recipe’s instructions and nutritional facts CLICK HERE
So you like them Apples? Make sure to share with your friends! For more apple recipes and pairings perfect for sharing this season CLICK HERE
Mateljan, G. (2007) The world’s healthiest foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation.
Murray, M. (2017) “Your Guide to Apple Varieties.” Retrieved from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/department/article/your-guide-apple-varieties
U.S. Apple Association (2017). “All About Apples.” Retrieved from http://usapple.org/all-about-apples/apple-varieties/