There’s been a lot of ruckus lately about the decline of the Red Delicious. For the past 50 years, the Red Delicious apple has been number one in America. But according to the U.S. Apple Association, its reign has been usurped by Gala — and it seems there are many people out there who are pretty pleased by this news. “It’s the beginning of the end,” apple historian Tom Burford crowed to The New York Times. “How are you going to market a tasteless apple when the consumer has tasted so many good apples?”
Amen to that. Forget those waxy mealy red orbs you can find in every grocery store, gas season or public school cafeteria. It’s apple season, and anyone who has ever been apple picking knows there is a whole world of flavor out there in those orchards. Some apples are crisp with a honeyed bite; some are juicy and tart; and some taste like earthy brown sugar.
But did you know that just as every apple has a distinct flavor profile, each variety has varying levels of healthy properties? In other words, not every apple will necessarily keep the doctor away.
According to a 2009 study, researchers determined that the 800-year-old Pendragon apple has the highest levels of health-promoting plant compounds. The Pendragon’s rivals in the study were 12 organic apples and three conventional ones, including the Golden Delicious, Royal Gala and Cox. “Of all the organic varieties, Pendragon was the best apple variety and contained seven of the eight kinds of healthy components at the highest levels,” study author Michael Wakeman told the Telegraph. “In contrast, the non-organic apples consistently had low levels…in both the flesh and the peel.”
Because the top apples in the study were grown organically, Wakeman surmised that they naturally had more phenols to protect against infection. Many studies have shown that polyphenols — a type of antioxidant — in apples help fight inflammation.
So, more antioxidants in organic apples — especially the elusive Pendragon, which apparently you can only find in a small courtyard in England — are a good thing. But there’s another reason to only buy organic apples. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “90 percent of conventional apples had detectable pesticide residues [and] 80 percent of apples tested contained diphenylam, a pesticide banned in Europe.”
Yuck. Even worse — those apples were all washed.
This fall, stick to organic apples. Try out a local farmer’s market and taste the variety. And even if you can’t find the Pendragon, remember that the average organic apple is loaded with fiber (which helps with weight loss), vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants. According to Medical News Today, apples have been credited with reducing the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
Just remember that if you’re baking your apples, they’ll lose a bit of their phytochemicals. Oh! And if you’re worried about whether to choose green or red — don’t worry about it. The differences between the two (slightly more antioxidants in red, slightly less sugar and more fiber in green) are negligible.
No matter which variety you love, be sure to enjoy your pickings!
HELPFUL TIP: For those times you can’t make it to the farmer’s market, you can get antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients from our premium supplement line.