Apples have long been a prized fruit — a brown-bag lunch staple, a gift to elementary school teachers, or the main event in America’s favorite pie. And growing up, I often heard the phrase: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
I believed it then, and I believe it now. Apples may not be the most exotic fruit, but they’re a top contender when it comes to nutritional benefits, convenience, and versatility. So let’s get started, comparing apples to apples!
Round 1: Red vs. Green
Apples come in all shades of red and green, with plenty of hues in between. When it comes to green, Crispins and Golden Delicious have a sweet flavor. Granny Smith packs a tart punch, and Ginger Golds have a killer combo of sweet and tart.
But we can’t overlook the abundance of red varieties out there: Red Delicious, Fuji, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Jazz, Gala, Empire, Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, and the list goes on. Red apples run the gamut of sweet and tart, and for this reason, I’m declaring them the winner.
The winner: Red apples
Round 2: Raw vs. Baked
There’s nothing like crunching into an apple. It’s crisp and refreshing, cleanses your palate after meals, and helps clean your teeth. And there’s no contest when it comes to convenience, all you need to do is give an apple a quick wash and it’s ready to go.
But…let’s be honest: raw apples are no match for the endless ways you can bake with an apple, not to mention, the intoxicating smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves that fill your home (even better than the scented brooms sold outside of every grocery store in the fall).
Think about how versatile apples are — apple pie, Jewish apple cake, apple cobbler, apple cider, apple cider donuts, applesauce, apple butter. And don’t get me started on how perfectly they complement any savory meal. Baking with apples doesn’t have to mean loads of calories (although it can), here are a handful of healthy apple recipes for you to try.
Don’t make me pick a winner. Raw apples win for simplicity and nutrition, and baked apples win for variety and overall deliciousness.
The winner: Draw
Round 3: Skin on vs. Skin off
To peel or not to peel, that is the question. And the answer is simple: keep the peel on! If you’re like my kids, you’ll ask for your apples peeled and sliced thin. But if, unlike my kids, you care about nutrition, you’ll keep that peel on. Apple skin contains the most fiber, vitamins (vitamins C and A), and antioxidants. These antioxidants have been shown to improve lungs and memory loss, and even fight cancer cells.
And if you’re worried about adding extra sugar to your diet with apples, don’t be. Apples contain soluble fiber, so your body doesn’t turn it into glucose. In fact, eating an apple slows down how quickly your body absorbs sugar.
The winner: Skin on
Round 4: Conventional vs. Organic
We all do it. We know organic is better but we opt for conventional produce because it’s easier on the wallet or more readily available.
But what I find helpful is knowing what’s on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list so I can prioritize my organic shopping list. These are the fruits and vegetables they tested that had the most pesticide residues on them after being washed. Apples show up on this list as number four, so it’s safe to say that it’s best to pick a peck of organic apples when possible.
There’s also a list called the Clean Fifteen that ranks the produce with least amounts of pesticide. It’s important to note, that the Environmental Working Group always recommends eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown, instead of processed foods and other less healthy alternatives because the benefits far outweigh the risks.
So how ‘bout them apples?
The winner: Organic
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