The apples of …

Apple fruit

Who does not like the taste of a crispy and sweet apple? Well, sometimes I wonder, especially when I see a kid eating a sugary Danish as a snack. Apples used to be our favorite snack when we were children. Every day after school and as a reward for good behavior (real or not), my brother was allowed to choose between a bright red big apple or a vibrant green one. Times they are sure changin’! But since it keeps the doctor away, why not make it again a habit of eating apples? My grandfather had an orchard with a few apple trees. I remember picking the apples before they were ripe because I could not wait (and because in this central and beautiful area of France there were so few real sunny days that the apples would never get very sweet anyway!). Although they were pretty small and hard and ugly-looking,  I liked the tart taste of it and the feeling of clean mouth (almost disinfected) I was left with. Other than that they were probably very poor in nutrients and difficult to digest. Now I know that you get much more from a big ripe tasty apple…. So here are some tips to help you enjoy this wonderful fruit:

-Apples are a great source of antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and vitamin C. Antioxidants are very important to us as they are known to help prevent and repair oxidation damage that happens during normal cell activity. Therefore eating food rich in antioxidants helps lowering the level of those damaging free radicals in our body.

-If you are watching your weight, apples  are  a snack you should favor as they are low in calories (between 45 and 100 per apple) and rich in fiber, and potassium.

-It is important to know that the skin has a much higher concentration of antioxidants than the flesh and also contains beneficial substances that the flesh does not. That is why you should eat the skin whenever it is possible so you get the most of what an apple can provide. Be sure to wash your apple thoroughly (to remove dirt and wax) but be aware that the skin is the part of the apple that contains the most pesticides. If you cannot find organic apples I would recommend to peel them before eating.

-There are more than 7,000 varieties of apples and each one has its own texture, flavor and unique skin color. The color of the skin reflects the chemical make up of the apple and it is wise to try apples of all colors so your body can benefit from different kinds of phytonutrients.,

-Fuji apples that are very popular in the US, have the highest total phenilic and total flavonoid content of any apple.

-Red Delicious apple may be one of the healthiest foods on earth. It contains more antioxidants than seven other apple varieties. It ranks 12th as far as its antioxidant concentration  on a list of 100 foods. Granny Smith ranks 13th. Those two varieties also contain high levels of collagen and elastin. That makes them very beneficial to your skin.

-Jonagolds and Golden Delicious apples contain the most quercetin which is a memory booster, and couldn’t we all use this?

-You will get much more benefit by eating a fresh apple than apple sauce and apple juice which contain only a small fraction of nutrients found in fresh apples and have more sugar. Also remember that some vitamins (such as vitamin C) are destroyed by heat.

-Pesticides: bad news! Although excellent for us on a nutritional level, apples are ones of the most pesticide-laden fruits, along with  peaches, nectarines, strawberries, and cherries. It is a good reason to buy organic apples. I am aware that only some of us can afford or decide to buy organic. However, if you have to make a choice, base it on the list of items that are most likely to contain high-pesticide levels: those are the ones you want organically grown. The other bad news is that rinsing your apple will not remove most of the pesticides since they are not water-soluble (they have to resist rain, aren’t they?). You can add a little scrubbing or a little bit of detergent  and make sure to rinse thoroughly. In any case, it will remove only a potion of the residues and even peeling will not help completely since there is some pesticides that have been incorporated into the apple while it was growing.

-Keep in mind that even organic fruits and vegetables have to be washed.

-Storage: Going back to my grandparents’ house, I still remember the wonderful smell of the basement where apples used to be stored (I would even volunteer to get stuff from the basement just for the typical and refreshing scent!). As a matter of fact, apples can keep for months when stored properly and this is how people were able to keep eating fruits in the winter,  long after the picking season. Over time there is definitely loss of some nutrients, but a good portion remains.

Last, I am sharing a tip from my grandmother: the bigger the fruit, the sweeter. This is because a big fruit is one that got more sun exposure that allowed it to develop. And more sun means more sugar! You’ll thank me later.