The age-old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away may not be far from the truth. A source of fibre, vitamin C, disease-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants, apples are nutrient powerhouses that don't always get the attention they deserve.
One medium apple provides 72 calories delivers 3 grams of fibre, including soluble fibre, the type helps lower blood cholesterol and controls blood sugar levels.
Apples have a low glycemic index, which means their carbohydrates are digested and absorbed slowly into the bloodstream. As a result they produce a gradual - rather than a sharp - rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. Low glycemic diets are linked with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, a healthier body weight and protection from certain cancers.
Apples are also a good source of quercetin, a disease-fighting antioxidant also found in green tea, grapes, onion, broccoli and green leafy vegetables. Research suggests that quercetin can help guard against cancer.
Nutrient information per 1 medium apple (with skin):
|Vitamin C||6 mg|
Source: Canadian Nutrient File, 2007b
In the early fall, locally grown apples are at their peak including favorites such as McIntosh and the sweet, crisp Red and Golden Delicious.
Check out our apple chart for apple varieties and their uses. We recommend you visit a farmer's market for the best selection of locally grown apples.
|Cortland||Large, sweet, slightly tart undertone||Good for eating raw, also holds its shape well in cooking – great for baked apples|
|Crispin (Mutsu)||Tart to sweet taste||Good for fresh eating, cooking, baking, pies, sauces and salads|
|Empire||Crisp, mild, sweet-tart||Good for eating raw and for all-purpose cooking|
|Fuji||Sweet, spicy, crisp||Excellent fresh and good for making pies, applesauce and in other baking|
|Golden Delicious||Very sweet, crisp||Excellent for pies; also very good in applesauce and in other baking; Freeze well|
|Granny Smith||Tart, crisp||Very good fresh, in pie, applesauce and other baking; Freezes well|
|IdaRed||Tart, very firm||Best for cooking, baking, pies and sauces|
|JonaGold||Firm, slightly coarse texture||Best for fresh eating, cooking and baking|
|McIntosh||Juicy, lightly crisp||Good for eating raw and is also ideal for cooking, such as making applesauce|
|Northern Spy||Tart and firm||Best in pies and sauces|
|Red Delicious||Very sweet, crisp||These are best in fresh salads or eaten out of hand|
|Rome Slightly||Tart, firm||Excellent for baking; Also very good choice for pies and applesauce|
|Spartan Fairly||Tart to sweet, crisp||
Good all-purpose apple, its attractive red skin makes it an appealing addition to salads and baked goods
In Canada, locally grown apples are at their peak from early fall until early winter.
When selecting apples, look for fruit with a firm texture and rich colour that are free from wrinkles and bruising. Press your finger against them to check for firmness; choose apples that feel hard and don't dent. Soft flesh is an indication that the fruit is old or damaged.
Apples need to be kept cold so they don't become soft. According to the Ontario Apple Growers, cold and humid storage ensures apples maintain their crisp, juicy texture. They recommend storing apples in perforated plastic bags in the crisper bin of your refrigerator to keep them crunchy. When stored properly, apples keep for about 6 weeks.
When storing apples for prolonged periods of time, keep an eye on them and remove any apples that are bruised or damaged. Studies show that damaged apples release high amounts of ethylene gas, a compound that can quicken the ripening and spoilage of other fruit stored with the apples.
Rinse apples under cool running water before eating. If you prefer, peel apples before eating, but remember that a large portion of fibre is found in their crispy skin.
When preparing and cooking apples, keep in mind that three medium-sized apples equal about 1 pound (454 g) of sliced apples; one medium apple yields about ¼ cup (175 ml) of sliced apples.
On their own or as an ingredient in a recipe, apples can be enjoyed any time of the year. Apples pair well with many foods including nuts, cheese, chocolate and savoury foods such as poultry, pork and shellfish.
Healthy ways to enjoy
- Start the day with a bowl of Leslie's overnight muesli - packed with oats, apples, berries, pecans and flaxseeds. Click here for the recipe.
- Enjoy a bowl of homemade oatmeal topped with finely diced apples and cinnamon - it'll keep you feeling full for hours and takes only minutes to prepare
- Enjoy a bowl of homemade Butternut Squash and Apple Soup - click here for the recipe.
- Use thinly sliced apples as a sandwich topping - it works especially well with leftover turkey and cranberry sauce.
- Toss together apples, carrots, almonds and quinoa for a protein-packed salad.
- Cap off a delicious dinner with homemade Apple Raspberry Crisp with Maple Oat Topping - click here for the recipe.
- Serve low-calorie apple blueberry muffins for a quick pick-me-up. Click here for the recipe.
- Spread slices of apple with a thin layer of almond butter for a heart healthy snack.
Did you know?
- Apples belong to the rose family of plants and are related to cherries, plums, almonds and apricots.
- It's estimated that apples have been cultivated for more than 3000 years.
- Apples are believed to have originated in Turkey.
- Apples are grown in just about every corner of the world including North America, Asia, Russia, Europe and South Africa.
- China is the world's leading producer of apples, followed by the U.S. and Iran.