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The warm scent and flavor of baking apples is a sure sign that fall is just around the corner. In the Northern Hemisphere apples are in season from late summer to early winter. However, many varieties are available year round because they have been either kept in cold storage or imported from the Southern Hemisphere.

Apples are crisp, white-fleshed fruits with red, yellow or green skin. They range in taste from moderately sweet and refreshing to pleasantly tart depending on the variety. The apple is a member of the rose family, with a compartmentalized core which classifies it as a pome fruit or apple in Latin.

Health Benefits

According to the latest research, the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is fact, not just folklore. The nutritional stars in apples—fiber, flavonoids, and fructose—translate into apples’ ability to keep us healthy: Fiber: Apples contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. One medium (5 ounces) unpeeled apple provides over 3 grams of fiber, more than 10% of the daily fiber intake recommended by experts. Even without its peel, a medium apple provides 2.7 grams of fiber.

Apple’s two types of fiber pack a double punch that can knock down cholesterol levels, reducing your risk of hardening of the arteries, heart attack, and stroke. Apple’s insoluble fiber works like bran, latching on to LDL cholesterol in the digestive tract and removing it from the body, while apple’s soluble fiber pectin reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol produced in the liver. Adding just one large apple (about 2/3 of a pound) to the daily diet has been shown to decrease serum cholesterol 8-11%. Eating 2 large apples a day has lowered cholesterol levels by up to 16%.!

A study published in the September 8, 2003 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as apples, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years, during which time 1,843 cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) and 3,762 cases of cardiovascular disease (CVD) were diagnosed. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less CHD and 11% less CVD compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.(December 3, 2003)

LDL cholesterol isn’t the only harmful compound on apple’s removal list. Pectin grabs toxins like the heavy metals lead and mercury, and ushers them out of the body. Both the soluble and insoluble fibers in apples have cancer-protective activity since they relieve constipation and send potentially toxic substances out with the stools.

When it comes to bowel regularity, apple’s two types of fiber tackle the job—no matter what it is. Both the insoluble fiber in apples and their soluble fiber pectin help relieve constipation (thus helping to prevent diverticulosis and colon cancer). The insoluble fiber works like roughage, while the pectin, which is found primarily in the skin, acts as a stool softener by drawing water into the stool and increasing stool bulk. On the other hand, because pectin firms up an excessively loose stool, it’s also used to treat diarrhea. One well-known over-the-counter diarrhea remedy, Kaopectate ™, actually contains an oxidized form of pectin.

Flavonoids: A type of pigment in apples that helps provide their color, flavonoids have been extensively researched and found to help prevent heart disease. Researchers in Finland followed over 5,000 Finish men and women for over 20 years. Those who ate the most apples and other flavonoid rich foods (such as onions and tea), were found to have a 20% lower risk of heart disease than those who ate the least of these foods.

Apples have been singled out as one of the small number of fruits and vegetables that contributed to the significant reduction in heart disease risk seen in a recent meta-analysis of seven prospective studies. Of the more than 100,000 individuals who participated in these studies, those who diets most frequently included apples, tea, onions, and broccoli—the richest sources of flavonoids—gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease. (October 24, 2003)

Apple skin and onions are the two major food sources of a potent flavonoid called quercitin. If, in addition to eating an apple a day, you add 2 tablespoons of onion and 4 cups of green tea (also rich in flavonoids) to your menu, you, like the men who consumed these foods in another study, may have a 32% lower risk of heart attack than people who consume less of these foods.

Quercitin’s benefits derive from its antioxidant activity, especially when it teams up with another antioxidant, vitamin C, also found in apples, to bolster the body’s immune defenses. This dynamic antioxidant duo provides another way (in addition to fiber) through which apples protect against cancer and also helps prevent the free radical damage to LDL cholesterol that promotes heart disease.

Fructose: Apples derive almost all of their natural sweetness from fructose, a simple sugar, but one which is broken down slowly, especially when combined with apples’ hefty dose of fiber, thus helping to keep blood sugar levels stable.

Prevent Kidney Stones

Want to reduce your risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones? Drink apple juice. A study published in the August 2003 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition found that when women drank to 1 litre of apple, grapefruit or orange juice daily, their urinary pH value and citric acid excretion increased, significantly dropping their risk of forming calcium oxalate stones. (October 4, 2003)

Natural Sun Protection

It’s long been known that apple peel contains high concentrations of special antioxidant compounds called phenols that may assist in the prevention of a number of chronic diseases. Now it appears that the phenols in the skin of certain cultivars of apples may provide a hefty dose of UV-B protection, according to a study published in the August 2003 issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany. Researchers evaluated both Granny Smith and Braeburn apples, with Braeburns being the clear winner in terms of their ability to accumulate UV-B protective quercitin glycosides in their sun-exposed skin. Sun-kissed Braeburns were resistant to high doses of UV-B radiation (up to 97kJ m-2). Next time you plan to spend time in the sun yourself, start your day with a Braeburn apple or bring one or two along for lunch and snacks.(October 4, 2003)

New Review Study Provides Even More Reasons to Enjoy Apples

A major review study published in the May 2004 issue of the Nutrition Journal provides dozens of reasons to enjoy an apple every day.

A review study is one that looks at the results of many other studies. This one included an analysis of 85 studies. Apples were found to be most consistently associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma, and type II diabetes when compared to other fruits and vegetables. In addition, eating apples was also associated with increased lung function and increased weight loss.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Apples are a rich and very important source of phytochemicals, including flavonoids and phenols, in the American diet and in Europe. In the United States, 22% of the phenolic compounds consumed from fruits come from apples, making them the largest source of phenols in the American diet.

When compared to other fruits, apples ranked second in total concentration of phenolic compounds, and perhaps more importantly, had the highest portion of free phenols. Since free phenols are not bound to other compounds in the fruit, they may be more available for absorption into the bloodstream.

Apples are also an excellent source of antioxidants, and when compared to many other commonly consumed fruits in the United States, were found to have the second highest level of antioxidant activity. Many of the phytochemicals found in apples, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, are strong antioxidants. .

The total antioxidant activity of 100 grams of whole apple (with the peel) was found to be equivalent to the antioxidant effect of about 1500 mg of vitamin C. (However, the amount of vitamin C in 100 g of apples is only about 5.7 mg. Nearly all of the antioxidant activity from apples comes from a variety of other compounds.)

Whole apples, especially their peels, have been found to have a number of powerful antioxidant effects, one of which is to protect VLDL and LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation. Yet when quercitin, one of the most important antioxidant flavonoids in apples, was tested by itself in rats, it had no protective effect. And when apple flesh and apple juice were tested, they provided less than a tenth the benefit of whole apple.

Apples' protective effects against free radical damage to cholesterol reach their peak at three hours following apple consumption and drop off after 24 hours, providing yet another good reason to eat a whole fresh apple a day.

In animal studies, apples have also been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising beneficial HDL cholesterol. Not only did the rats in these studies produce less cholesterol, but they also excreted more in their feces when fed apples, pears and peaches—but apples had the greatest cholesterol-lowering effect.

In the most recent studies, investigators found that the combination of apple pectin and apple phenols lowered cholesterol and triglycerides to a much greater extent than either apple pectin or phenols alone. This again suggests a beneficial synergy between the many healthful compounds found in apples and supports eating the whole fruit instead of simply drinking apple juice, eating peel-free applesauce or taking fiber supplements.

Apples have also been shown to greatly inhibit the growth of liver and colon cancer cells in several studies. In one study, at a dose of 50 mg/mL, liver cancer cell proliferation was inhibited by 39% by extracts of whole Fuji apple and 57% by whole Red Delicious extracts. In another study in which colon cancer cells were treated with apple extracts, cell proliferation was inhibited 43% at a dose of 50 mg/mL.

In several large epidemiological (population) studies conducted in the United Kingdom, Finland and the Netherlands, apple consumption (a minimum of 2 apples per week) was found to be inversely linked with asthma and type 2 diabetes, and positively associated with general lung health. Researchers attribute apples' protective effects in these conditions to apples' high concentration of anti-inflammatory flavonoids, such as quercitin and catechin.

In addition to their beneficial effects against chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes, apples may also help combat cholera. Recently, crude extracts from immature apples were found to inhibit cholera toxin in a dose dependent manner by up to 98%.

Researchers have found distinct differences in total phenolic and flavonoid content among different apple varieties:

Of the four common varieties used for applesauce (Rome Beauty, Idared, Cortland, and Golden Delicious), Rome Beauty had the highest phenolic content.

Out of 10 varieties commonly consumed in the U.S., Fuji apples had the highest total phenolic and total flavonoid compounds, but Red Delicious apples were also quite high. These apple varieties also tended to have higher antioxidant activity.

Apple phytochemical content is not greatly affected by storage. After 100 days, the amount of phenolic compounds in the skin begins to decrease slightly, but even after 200 hundred days in cold storage, the total amount of these compounds remains close to the level at the time of harvest.

However, processing apples into juice greatly lowers their phytochemical content. Apple juice obtained from Jonagold apples by pulping and straight pressing had only 10% of the antioxidant activity of fresh apples, while juice obtained after pulp enzyming had only 3% of fresh apples' antioxidant activity. The take home message: store apples in the refrigerator and enjoy a sweet, crunchy, whole apple at least 2-3 times each week. (June 30, 2004)

Lower Your Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the June 2004 issue of the Archives of Opthamology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved 77,562 women and 40,866 men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants' consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARM, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men.

While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARM, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but apples make it easy to increase your fruit intake. Add diced apple to your morning cereal, or top off a cup of yogurt or green salad with apple slices. Nothing's quicker or easier for an afternoon snack than a cold crisp apple. Paired with some flavorful cheese, apple slices make a great dessert or late night snack.(July 10, 2004)


Apples are a crisp, white-fleshed fruit with a red, yellow or green skin. The apple is actually a member of the rose family, which may seem strange until we remember that roses make rose hips, which are fruits similar to the apple.

Apples have a moderately sweet, refreshing flavor and a tartness that is present to greater or lesser degree depending on the variety. For example, Golden and Red Delicious apples are mild and sweet, while Pippins and Granny Smith apples are notably brisk and tart. Tart apples, which best retain their texture during cooking, are often preferred for cooked desserts like apple pie, while Delicious apples and other sweeter varieties like Braeburn and Fuji apples are usually eaten raw.


The apple tree, which originally came from Eastern Europe and southwestern Asia, has spread to most temperate regions of the world. Over the centuries, many hybrids and cultivars have been developed, giving us the 7,000 varieties in the market today.

Apples have long been famous—or infamous, given the pivotal role played by an apple in the biblical story of Adam and Eve. In Norse mythology, apples were given a more positive persona: a magic apple was said to keep people young forever. Apples’ most recent appearance in history occurred in the 1800s in the U.S., when Johnny Appleseed—a real person named John Chapman, despite the mythological quality of his tale—walked barefoot across an area of 100,000 square miles, planting apple trees that provided food and a livelihood for generations of settlers.

How to Select and Store

Look for firm fruits with rich coloring. Yellow and green apples with a slight blush are best. Your preference for a sweeter or more tart fruit and whether you plan to enjoy your apples raw or cooked will guide your choice of variety. Just remember that Red and Golden Delicious are among the sweetest apples. Braeburn and Fuji apples are slightly tart, and Gravenstein, Pippin and Granny Smith apples are the most tart, but retain their texture best during cooking.

In the northern hemisphere, apple season begins at the end of summer and lasts until early winter. Apples available at other times have been in cold storage or are imported from the southern hemisphere.

Whole apples are a much better nutritional choice than apple juice. Not only are whole apples richer in dietary fiber, but the current processes of juicing seem to drastically reduce the polyphenolic phytonutrient concentrations originally found in the whole fruit.

How to Enjoy

In addition to being eaten raw, apples are a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes from salads to baked goods. For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Tips for preparing apples:

Rinse apples under clear running water like you would any fruit. If organic, don’t peel unless the recipe you have chosen requires peeled apples.

To prevent browning when slicing apples for a recipe, simply put the slices in a bowl of cold water to which a spoonful of lemon juice has been added.

For use in future recipes, sliced apples freeze well in plastic bags or containers.

A few quick serving ideas:

Add diced apples to fruit or green salads.

Braise a chopped apple with red cabbage.

Looking for an alternative to sweet desserts? Sliced apples (either alone or with other fruits) and cheese are a European favorite.

Try our wonderful Apple Tart in the recipe file.


As explained in the apples’ Nutritional Profile, organically grown apples are preferable since, according to a study by Consumers Union, most commercially raised apples contain at least 4 pesticides (such as captan and endosulfan) and may have as many as 10 pesticides. In a sample of 502 commercially raised apples, 98.2% had one or more pesticide residues. You can avoid consuming these pesticides by removing the skin of non-organic apples, but, unfortunately, you will also be removing much of apple’s fiber and flavonoids.

When purchasing non-organic apples, even if you intend to peel them, you may want to ask your grocer about the kind of wax used to protect the apple’s surface during storage or shipping. Carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm tree), beeswax, and shellac (from the lac beetle) are preferable to petroleum-based waxes, which contain solvent residues or wood rosins.

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that amount represents; the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Not all of our Daily Value standards are obtained from the FDA. In most instances, we used FDA Daily Values when available because they are widely recognized and apply to both men and women. However, when unavailable, we've used other science-based research to establish nutritional standards. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read more about our Food and Recipe Rating System.

1.00 each
81.42 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
dietary fiber 3.73 g 14.9 3.3 good
vitamin C 7.87 mg 13.1 2.9 good
vitamin K 6.90 mcg 8.6 1.9 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In Depth Nutritional Profile for Apple


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  • Sable-Amplis R, Sicart R, Agid R. Further studies on the cholesterol-lowering effect of apple in humans. Biochemical mechanisms involved. Nutr Res 1983;3:325-8.
  • Solovchenko A, Schmitz-Eiberger M. Significance of skin flavonoids for UV-B-protection in apple fruits. J Exp Bot. Aug;54(389):1977-84. Epub 2003 Jun 18.
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