What Is an Apple?
An apple is a crunchy, bright-colored fruit, which is one of the most popular in the U.S. You’ve probably heard the age-old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Although eating apples isn’t a cure-all, it is good for your health.
European settlers brought apples with them to the Americas. They preferred apples to North America’s native crabapple, a smaller, tarter fruit.
Today, many types of apples are grown in the U.S., but a small percentage of the ones you can buy in grocery stores are imported. Each type of apple has a different shape, color, and texture.
An apple can be sweet or sour, and its flavor can vary depending on what type you’re eating.
There are many varieties, including:
- Red Delicious
- Granny Smith
Apple Health Benefits
Apples can do a lot for you, thanks to plant chemicals called flavonoids. And they have pectin, a fiber that breaks down in your gut. If you take off the apple’s skin before eating it, you won’t get as much of the fiber or flavonoids.
Nutritionists and other scientists get excited about apples because of their phytochemical content. Phytochemicals are substances found in plants that may be good for human health. They go by many different names, such as phytonutrients, polyphenols, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and flavonoids. You shouldn't peel your apples, as most of the phytochemicals are in the skin.
The fiber can slow digestion, so you feel fuller after eating. This can keep you from overeating. Eating fiber-rich foods helps control symptoms and lessens the effects of acid reflux. An apple’s fiber can also help with diarrhea and constipation.
Some studies show that plant chemicals and the fiber of an apple peel protect against blood vessel and heart damage. They also can help lower your cholesterol, and they might protect your cells’ DNA from something called oxidative damage, which is one of the things that can lead to cancer.
Scientists also give apples credit for helping:
- Your lung strength
- Your heart
- With asthma
- Bone health
- Weight loss
- Your brain (easing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory loss)
- Your immune system
- Your gut health
One medium apple has about:
Although apples do have health benefits, eating too many of them (like anything) can be bad for you. Too much fruit can cause you to gain weight.
There are a few other things to keep in mind:
Pesticides. Apples are one of the fruits that have high pesticide residues because bugs and disease are more likely to affect them. It’s always best to wash fruits like apples before you eat them.
Seeds. You might’ve also heard that eating apple seeds or the core is bad for you. The seeds do have chemicals that turn into cyanide in your body, but you would have to crush and eat many seeds for them to harm you. In fact, an average adult would have to eat at least 150 crushed seeds for a risk of cyanide poisoning. The seeds are actually rich in protein and fiber.
How to Buy and Prepare Apples
When you’re buying apples, make sure they feel firm and heavy. The skin shouldn’t have bruises, cuts, or soft spots.
Apples are healthiest when eaten fresh and unpeeled. Cut apples turn brown quickly because of a process called enzymatic browning. The darkened fruit isn't harmful, but it may look less appealing. To prevent enzymatic browning, dip the apples in a lemon juice solution or use a commercial product.
Make sure to store apples in your refrigerator to keep them fresh longer. They can be stored at room temperature, but they’ll ripen much faster.
When you eat an apple, leave the skin on because it has more than half of the apple's fiber.
The types of apples that are best for baking are usually tart and slightly sweet varieties, including:
- Granny Smith
Juicy, sweet types are best if you’d rather eat your apple raw. These include:
- Red Delicious
Try these simple but healthy ways to eat more apples:
- Add chopped apples and cranberries to a classic stuffing recipe.
- Make a classic Waldorf salad by mixing apples, celery, grapes, and walnuts. Add a dab of mayo and serve on lettuce.
- Add chopped apples to pancake batter for extra crunch and nutrition.
- Fill the cavity of cored apples with nuts and spice for delicious baked apples.
- Add chopped apples to your favorite tuna salad recipe.
- Combine spinach with raisins and apples for a nutritious salad. Use apple cider vinegar for an ultra low-calorie dressing.
- Eat sliced apples with peanut butter or sun butter.
- Play around with apple and cheese pairings. Try blue cheese with Granny Smiths or cheddar with Galas.
- Add chopped apples to cereal or oatmeal.
- Bake apples with winter squash and spices for a unique side dish.
How long do apples last?
There are several factors that impact the shelf life of apples:
- The type of apple
- Stage of maturity at picking
- Handling before properly storing
- How soon they’re refrigerated
Some types of apple store well, while others are better if eaten quickly. The ideal storage temperature for apples is 30-32 F with 90%-95% relative humidity. Under these storage conditions, apples can last for many weeks to months, depending on the type:
- Lodi: 1-2 weeks
- Wealthy: 3-10 weeks
- Cortland: 3-4 months
- McIntosh: 3-4 months
- Golden Delicious: 3-5 months
- Jonathan: 3-5 months
- Red Delicious: 3-5 months
- Chieftain: 3-6 months
There are several things you can do in order to extend the shelf life of your apples:
- Sort out the apples that you want to store.
- Remove apples that have bruises, cuts, or signs of decay.
- Eat larger apples sooner because smaller apples can be stored longer.
- If possible, store apples in a drawer of your fridge where the temperature remains consistent.
- If you can’t store your apples in the fridge, put them in a cooler or a basement that stays cool.
How long do apples last in the fridge?
Most apples will last 4-6 weeks in the fridge. Once cut, they will brown more quickly and won't last as long. Some apples can last longer in the fridge than others.