The apple originated in central Asia, and its direct ancestor still grows wild there. Fossil remains have shown that apples were gathered and stored 5,000 years ago, and they were likely being cultivated in Neolithic times.
The Egyptians grew apples, and invading Roman legions introduced them to Britain. The early colonists brought apples to America from their home country, establishing orchards in Massachusetts and Virginia. These orchards became the foundation for most of the apples grown in the United States today.
Types of Apples
Do you know your Golden Delicious from your Jonagold? Here's a guide to the most popular apple varieties.
An apple a day provides respectable amounts of both insoluble and soluble fiber. One large apple supplies almost 30 percent of the minimum amount of fiber experts say should be consumed daily. About 81 percent of the fiber in the apple flesh is soluble, most of it a type called pectin. Studies indicate that pectin and other soluble fibers are effective in lowering cholesterol levels.
Fresh apples also have some vitamin C and some potassium. When apples are processed into apple juice or applesauce, however, almost all of their vitamin C is lost (though the potassium is retained). Commercial brands of apple juice are often fortified with vitamin C—and occasionally with calcium as well.
Apples are rich in the antioxidant quercetin, and red apples contain a polyphenol called anthocyanin. Researchers theorize that these phytochemicals may be beneficial to health, though as yet nothing is proven.
The apple is fibrous, juicy, and non-sticky, making it a good tooth-cleaner and gum stimulator. However, you should still brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water after eating an apple because of the acids in the juice.
For a full listing of nutrients, see Apples in theNational Nutrient Database.
How to Choose the Best Apples
Apples should be firm to hard—if you can dent one with your fingers, it's likely to be mealy inside. Here are other tips for selecting apples, plus how to keep them fresh at home.
Cyanide in apple seeds
The seeds of apples—like those of other members of the same botanical family, such as peaches and apricots—contain a tiny amount of the deadly poison cyanide. This fact shouldn’t cause concern because you would have to eat hundreds of seeds in one sitting to suffer any ill effects.
10 Recipe Ideas for Apples
Apples are delicious in sandwiches, soups, and even when served with meat.
Published August 28, 2015