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Healthiest Apples: Which one is the best?

We all know apples are healthy. The old cliché, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” may not necessarily hold 100 percent of the time, but it is true enough to keep apples around the house. There are so many varieties of apples that it can be difficult to determine which are the healthiest apples. 

Some apples are best for baking and cooking, some are great for snacks, and some heirloom apples are downright delicacies on their own. Which are the healthiest apples, and which are the most practical to keep on hand for health and wellness?

If you have browsed the apple selection at any major grocery store, you have seen that the choices are astounding. Where we once found maybe a half-dozen apple varieties, we now find an entire store section devoted to varieties of apples. How to choose the healthiest apples is hard to determine. 

What are apples? What are the healthiest apples? What are the benefits of apples? And how do you choose from the seemingly endless varieties of apples available today? This guide will give you all the information you need to sort through the humble apple and figure out which are the healthiest apples. 

What are Apples?

healthy apples

Apples are the fruit of the apple tree or Malus Domestica. Apple trees originated in Central Asia as the wild version of the modern apple tree. Apple trees are now found in Asia and Europe. They were brought to the Americas by European colonists and flourished for many years. 

Apples have been so central to culture that they take their place in mythology. Everyone from the ancient Greeks to founding myths of modern culture includes apples as a central image. This is partly because the word "apple" once simply meant any fruit, and also because the apple has played an important part in the development of so many cultures over the centuries. 

From the original wild ancestor of modern apple trees, there are now over 7500 varieties of apples cultivated around the world. These range from the most common varieties of apples that are cultivated in large numbers to specialized heirloom varieties that are delicate and more difficult to cultivate in large quantities. 

Apple trees are deciduous trees. They range from about 6-15 feet tall. Apple trees produce a blossom that can range in color. They bloom in spring and apples tend to reach maturity in late summer or early fall. Apple varieties can be green, red, pink, and russeted. Some can be striped with multiple colors and shades. 

Why are Apples among the healthiest foods on earth?

Apples get their reputation as healthy for good reasons. Apples are considered to be one of the healthiest foods on earth because they can provide such a wide range of health benefits. Apples provide high levels of nutrients, and this includes vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can protect against chronic disease and even cancer. 

While all fruits provide powerful levels of certain nutrients, apples are fairly unique in that they contain a variety of nutrients in significantly high concentrations. Apples are also high in fiber which provides numerous health benefits. Apples can also help you lose weight. 

Apple Benefits Some of the major health benefits of apples include:

Nutrient-dense Fruit

Apples are considered nutrient-dense foods. This means they contain large quantities and varieties of nutrients. The current recommended amount of fruit for Americans is 2 cups of fruit daily. This recommendation emphasizes fruits like apples. 

One medium-sized apple (about 200 grams) contains the following nutrients: 

  • Calories: 104
  • Carbs: 28 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Vitamin C: 10% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 6% of the DV
  • Potassium: 5% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 4% of the DV

This same serving size of apples also provides 2-5 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamins E, B1, and B6. 

Apples also contain significant levels of polyphenols. This is an important compound that provides strong antioxidant properties. These can protect against cancer, heart disease, and other chronic health issues. 

May Support Weight Loss

Apples have high levels of fiber and water. This makes apples filling, and that works for your weight loss plans. Simply by snacking on apples, you are less likely to feel hungry between planned meals, and you are more like to be successful in losing weight. 

Research has shown that snacking on apples can help you feel full up to four times longer than other types of snacks. This is because apples decrease the rate at which your stomach becomes empty. 

May promote Gut Health

Apples contain a specific type of fiber called pectin. Pectin works as a prebiotic which means it feeds the natural bacteria that make for a healthy digestive system. Maintaining a healthy digestive system promotes the health and well-being of your entire body. In essence, the digestive system is the gateway to all other forms of health and nutrition. By providing things like apples, you feed your entire body. 

Research has shown that a healthy digestive system complete with healthy levels of intestinal bacteria can protect against, chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. 

Could help fight asthma

Apples contain high levels of antioxidants that protect against oxidative damage that affects the lungs. The function of antioxidants is to neutralize that damage done by other compounds called free radicals. Since many of the damaging free radicals are in the air we breathe, there is always a particular danger to the lungs. 

The presence of free radicals in the lungs can trigger inflammation and an allergic response. This can lead to bronchial asthma. Apple skins have especially high concentrations of the antioxidant quercetin, and this helps regulate things like immune responses. By eating whole apples, you can provide significant amounts of quercetin, and this can protect against the onset of the late phases of bronchial asthma.  

Other research has found that apples also contain a compound called proanthocyanidins. This compound has been shown to reduce or even prevent the allergic reactions that can lead to asthma. 

It May help protect your brain

The antioxidant quercetin may also help protect your brain from oxidative stress. Research has found that the antioxidant effects of quercetin protect the nerves and brain cells from the kinds of damage that lead to degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease.

Most Popular Type of Apples

green and red apples

As we said above, there are about 7500 varieties of apples. In recent years, some of the rarer varieties have become available in grocery stores. Some varieties of apples are simply too delicate to ship and grow in large quantities. These need to be purchased at orchards that grow these heirloom variety apples. Some of the most popular types of apples include:

Red Delicious

These apples are dark red and are deliciously sweet. Red Delicious apples are the stereotypical apple that turns up in almost any artistic rendering of apples. The skins are red and contain high levels of antioxidants. 

Pink Lady

These are a pink/red color. Fuji apples can often be slightly ovate in appearance and oddly shaped. Fuji apples are among the sweetest varieties. Originally cultivated in Japan, Fiji apples are high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and vitamin A. 

McIntosh

This is another extremely common variety of apples. It has a blush color and can be slightly ovate in appearance. McIntosh apples have a sweet-tart. These are a favorite for making apple cider since they give the cider a distinct mix of sweetness and tart flavor. McIntosh apples are a good source of fiber to regulate the digestive tract, vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, and potassium to balance fluid levels within the body.

Golden (or Yellow) Delicious

This type of apple has high levels of carotenoids which give it its distinctive golden yellow color. Golden delicious apples are high in polyphenols and carotenoids which are powerful antioxidants. The presence of carotenoids also makes Golden delicious apples great for eye and heart health and they improve brain function. 

Gala

These are another great sweet apple and make perfect snacks. In addition to being a great-tasting apple, Gala apples contain high levels of polyphenols and catechin which protect against heart disease. 


Honeycrisp

Honeycrisp is a medium-to-large-sized apple, with a light green/yellow background largely covered with red-orange flush with a strong hint of pink if grown in good sunlight. The skin may be flecked with occasional russet dots. Honeycrisp apples are sweet with a touch of acidity. They are rich in vitamin K and potassium. 

Granny Smith

Granny smooth apples are distinctive because they are green rather than red when ripe. A tart apple, Granny Smith apples are great for baking. These apples are fantastic for maintaining gut health. 

Braeburn

Originally cultivated in New Zealand, Braeburn apples are becoming a favorite, overtaking the red delicious. The flavor is comparable to a red or golden delicious apple. They are bi-color—green and red. Braeburn apples have a similar nutritional profile as a red or golden delicious apple. 

Fuji

Fuji apples have a sweet flavor, a yellow and red peel, and a juicy, crisp texture — all factors that may contribute to their widespread popularity.  Fuji apples consistently show a higher polyphenol content than other apple varieties making them a great source of antioxidants. 

Empire

These are small to medium-sized apples. They have a yellow and red appearance with a sweet flavor that carries a tart aftertaste. Empire apples were first cultivated in New York. The sweet-tart flavors make them perfect for cooking and baking. The skin of Empire apples tends to be a little dense making them a great source of dietary fiber. 

Apple FAQS

What are Apples? Apples are the fruit of the apple tree or Malus Domestica. Apple trees originated in Central Asia as the wild version of the modern apple tree. Apple trees are now found in Asia and Europe. They were brought to the Americas by European colonists and flourished for many years. 

Why are Apples among the healthiest foods on earth? Apples get their reputation as healthy for good reasons. Apples are considered to be one of the healthiest foods on earth because they can provide such a wide range of health benefits. Apples provide high levels of nutrients, and this includes vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can protect against chronic disease and even cancer. 

What are some of the health benefits of apples? Compared to other fruits, apples provide the most nutritional benefits. They have more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than most other fruits. Apples promote gut health, provide protection for your brain, and can even protect against developing asthma. Apples are also great for supporting weight loss. They help you feel full longer by delaying the time that your stomach empties. 

What are some of the most popular varieties of apples? There are over 7500 varieties of apples. Some of the most popular are Red and Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Honeycrisp apples. In recent years, the varieties of apples easily available in stores have grown substantially. 

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