Why Adam let himself be seduced by Eve's apple is understandable to anyone who has ever tried this incredibely popular fruit. This is by no means a sin; on the contrary, apples not only taste wonderful but are healthy and can be used in many different ways in both cooking and baking.
- ...are incredibly rich in minerals, containing about 20 different varieties. The high levels of potassium (important for the metabolism), calcium (for healthy bones and teeth), phosphorus (important for cognitive function) and small amounts of iron (promotes blood formation) are particularly beneficial.
- ...soothe the stomach. A diet high in soluble dietary fibers can help those with sensitive stomachs or sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome, as the fibers promote healthy digestion without adding pressure to the intestines. Apples are high in the soluble dietary fiber pectin, and thus a great way to soothe finicky stomachs. For those with very sensitive stomachs or diarrhea, an apple puree or compote is even more easily digested than the raw fruit. The apple skin has also been known to aid in constipation.
- ...protect cells. The apple is a great source of secondary plant compounds such as quercetin, pentosans and galactans, with help protect the cells from disease-causing free radicals.
- ...contain valuable vitamins, including vitamins A, B1, B2 and E. Apples are a particularly good source of vitamin C: depending on the variety, a large apple (approx. 150 g) provides 18 - 30 mg of the vitamin. Eat two apples and you’ve already covered more than half of the daily requirement of approx. 100 mg vitamin C.
- ...are good for the gums. While eating an apple is no substitute for brushing your teeth, chewing apples can mildly clean the teeth, as well as slightly massage the gums, protecting against inflammation.
- ...help relieve gout and rheumatism. Raw apple peels have long been a staple in naturopathy and folk medicine. The skin promotes the excretion of uric acid in the body, which can help prevent attacks of gout. A tea made from dried apple peel can also help ease pain associated with rheumatism.
What You Should Know About Apples
Wild apples originate from Central and Western Asia. In the course of many centuries, several thousand different varieties have developed worldwide from the original very small and tart fruit. The first apples were cultivated in ancient Greece and Rome, but it was not until the 16th century that apples gradually became a staple in the human diet, first in Europe.
The harvest season for native apples starts in July, and for most varieties generally continues into the fall.
Apples get their apple-y aroma from from numerous tiny oil glands in the skin. While texture doesn’t vary widely between the many different types of apples, taste very much so does.
There are currently about 4,500 different apple varieties worldwide. That might sound impressive, however in the 18th and 19th centuries there were many more varieties, no less than 20,000 by some accounts.
Many popular varieties of apples, including McIntosh and Red Delicious have a mild, sweet taste that makes them perfect for snacking. Native, old varieties of apples on the other hand generally have a more distinct flavor. The green Granny Smith, for instance, has a much more sour tate.
How Healthy Are Apples?
As the old saying goes: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” While this is exaggerated, of course, apples are a nutrient-dense fruit and a great ingredient to integrate into your diet if you’re trying to stay healthy.
Especially remarkable is the pectin content in apples, especially in the peel. This soluble dietary fibre can curb the appetite, helping you stay fuller for longer and ultimately lose weight. Dried apples pack an even greater dose of pectin, and may be even more healthful than their fresh counterparts. A recent American study found that dried apples can even aid in lowering bad cholesterol. Among the study participants, those who had eaten 75 g of dried apples daily in addition to their normal diet saw the level of harmful LDL cholesterol fall by an average of 23% after just six months.
Apples also contain vitamins A, B1, B2 and C. However, the vitamin C content varies considerably depending on the variety. While some apple varieties such as Berlepsch or Ontario contain between 20 and 30 mg vitamin C per 100 g, others such as Granny Smith, Jonathan and Gloster only contain 5-10 mg/100 g. Boskop, Cox Orange, Golden Delicious and Jonagold are also good sources of vitamin c, with with 10-20 mg per 100 g.
As a rule of thumb: If you value a good portion of vitamin C, it is best to use local seasonal apple varieties - here you can expect at least about 15 mg per 100 g. A large 200 g apple can therefore cover almost a third of the daily requirement, or more depending on the variety.
Eating apples is definitely good for your stomach. Eaten with skin and chewed well, apples help with constipation. Peeled and finely grated apples can help alleviate diarrhea.
Apples are also a great snack if you’re trying to lose weight. Not only do they contain hardly any fat and few calories, but they’re also a great source of satiating dietary fiber. A British study showed that the pectin in apples can even enclose fat particles from other foods, so that the body absorbs less fat.
|Apple Nutritional Info (100 g)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
If you’re looking for a strong apple-y taste, it is best to use local apple varieties that are in season. It’s not particularly necessary to purchase organic apples; conventionally grown apples oftentimes taste just as good. With so many different varieties of the fruit, apples are a great ingredient to purchase at your local farmers market. Smaller farmers often harvest some of the lesser-known varieties of apples, with unique tastes and textures.
Apples generally keep for quite a long time. Keep them in the refrigerator or a cool pantry and most varieties can stay crisp and fresh for up to several weeks. Apples kept at room temperature can also stay fresh for up to a week.
Keep in mind that apples do emit the gas ethylene, which accelerates the ripening process. Storing apples with other fruits will cause those fruits to ripen more quickly.
Preparing an apple to eat couldn’t be easier; simply rinse it well under arm running water and rub it dry before eating.
Recipes that utilize apples will generally call for the apples to be cut and cored. To do so, simply cut the apples in half, quarter them, and cut out the tough, seedy core. If you cook with apples often, it might be worth investing in an apple corer, an inexpensive kitchen device which can extract the apple’s core in seconds.
If you’re cooking with raw apples, in a salad for instance, always remember to sprinkle the apples with some lemon juice. Otherwise the pieces will turn an unsavory brown color.
What To Make With Apples
There are limitless ways to cook and enjoy apples. They’re delicious in fruit salads, as a cake or pie base, or for boiling down into jams or apple sauces. If you have access to a juicer, fresh apple juice is an incredibly delicious and healthful treat.
Apples also taste great as an addition to savory dishes and appetizers. Tart apples like Granny Smiths are perfect in raw vegetable salads, or lightly steamed with savoy cabbage.