Not all apples are created equal

IStock photo

IStock photo

Apples are a hotbed of research as scientists discover the many disease-fighting weapons contained.  But not all apples are created equal in terms of their content of these health promoting compounds.

Scientific investigations have been looking at various apple varieties to see which rank highest in their ability to protect health.  Red Delicious and Spy apples to be consistently higher than other types like Ida Red, Cortland and Empire. Honeycrisp has also  received stellar ratings in some assessments.

Keep in mind, though, that there are a number of different protective substances in apples and as a result, the ranking of the apple depends on which compounds are being assessed.

So  if you love Cortlands or Ida Reds, don’t assume that you’re not consuming antioxidants. It may be fewer, though.

Another piece of good news about the antioxidant totals, they do not decrease with long term storage – at least the way that apples are kept   under controlled atmosphere conditions. So if you’re enjoying an apple in the middle of winter, you won’t lose out on its antioxidant activity.

But if you opt for applesauce or juice, besides eating fewer antioxidants, you may also lose out on another of the apple’s weapons – satiety. In a Pennsylvania State University study, published in the journal, Appetite, scientists tested different forms of the fruit – apple, applesauce, and apple juice, with and without added fibre, along with no fruit at all– on subjects before eating lunch to determine their effect on the subjects’ calorie intake at lunch.

The results: eating the apple ranked tops by reducing the number of calories eaten at lunch by 15 percent compared to having no fruit. As for promoting feeling fuller, the apple once again won out over the other choices. It’s interesting to note that simply adding the fibre to the juice didn’t help make the subjects feel as full as if they had eaten the apple itself.

If you’re heading out apple picking and hit the jackpot with the amount you bring home, remember that proper storage is key. To keep them crunchy, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  These fruits produce ethylene gas –  a substance that promotes quicker ripening in some fruits and vegetables.  Keeping them in the fridge will decrease its production.

There is indeed truth to the expression “One rotten apple spoils the whole bunch” .   They release more ethylene, resulting in the other apples  losing their crunchiness and spoiling more quickly. So don’t store any bruised ones with other produce or apples. Instead remove the bruised part and then either eat it or cook with it.

While it may be inviting to keep the apples in a bowl on your kitchen counter  to remind you to eat your fruit instead of a less nutrient-rich selection, keep in mind  that at room temperature, apples ripen eight to ten times faster than when stored in the refrigerator.

Enjoy apples during apple season and all year round. And to reap the  maximum benefits, go for an assortment of apple varieties.

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Categories: Research Roundup

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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