Red Delicious: King of the Apple Orchard?
More antioxidants than 7 other apple varieties, Canadian study shows
WebMD News Archive
May 26, 2005 -- If apples had feelings, some might be just a tad jealous of
the Red Delicious variety right now.
Canadian scientists say Red Delicious apples have more antioxidants called
polyphenols than seven other apple varieties. The findings appear in the June
29 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, an
American Chemical Society (ACS) publication.
But there's no need to get bent out of shape about it, says researcher Rong
Tsao, PhD, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Guelph, Ontario.
"When taste and texture do not matter, choosing an apple with a high
proportion of polyphenols in the flesh and skin can potentially produce more
health benefits. But eating any apple is better than eating no apple at
all," says Tsao in an ACS news release.
'A' Is for Apple -- and Antioxidant
Scientists already knew that apples are loaded with antioxidants, which
protect against "free radicals" that may cause problems including
cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
Last November, researchers reported that an antioxidant called quercetin in
apples appeared to protect rat brain cells from free radicals. But those lab
tests didn't involve living rats.
In March, other scientists said apples may protect against breast cancer.
That study was also based on rats, not people.
There are different types of antioxidants; polyphenols are the main source
of antioxidants in apples, say Tsao and colleagues. They wanted to see if any
particular polyphenols stood out and which apples rated highest for polyphenol
Taste had nothing to do with it. Tsao's team was probably too busy peeling
and producing apple extracts. They analyzed apple skin and flesh separately,
measuring polyphenol levels.
There wasn't a bad apple in the bunch, and the peels had many more
antioxidants than the flesh. Here are the rankings for flesh phenol
- Red Delicious
- Northern Spy
- Ida Red
- Golden Delicious
Red Delicious apples had more than twice as many polyphenols as Empire
apples, the study shows.
What about Gala, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jonagold, Fuji, and other apple
varieties? They weren't in the running. Tsao's team studied apples that are
popular in Canada, not the U.S. All of the apples came from the same farm and
were grown under the same conditions.
The mildly sweet Red Delicious apple is a "classic -- America's favorite
snacking apple," says the Washington Apple Commission's web site.
It's got lots of company. There are 7,500 apple varieties grown worldwide,
says the University of Illinois Extension's web site. A medium apple has about
80 calories and 5 grams of fiber; Americans eat nearly 20 pounds of fresh
apples (about 65 apples) per year, says the university.
Red Delicious apples may be antioxidant heavyweights, but your taste buds
might appreciate a little variety. Here's a look at the Washington Apple
Commission's guide to other apples:
- Golden Delicious: Mellow and sweet
- Gala: Crisp, snappy, aromatically sweet
- Fuji: Immensely flavorful, crisp, big, super sweet; originally from
- Granny Smith: Extremely tart, juicy, crisp; often used in pies
- Braeburn: Rich, sweet-tart, spicy flavor; very firm
- Jonagold: Juicy, orange-tinted, delicate flavor
- Pink Lady: Unique tangy-tart, sweet flavor
- Cameo: Sweet with a zingy crunch
Some varieties -- like Granny Smith, Jonagold, and Pink Lady -- are
favorites in pies, and all of them make good salad ingredients (as well as
snacks), says the commission.