Few foods can convey the essence of the coming autumn like the apple. Though pumpkins may steal the show on Halloween, when it comes to true fall foods, the apple has long been one of the most prominent. Whether it is a trip to the apple orchard, warm apple cider as the weather cools, or just the first apple pie of autumn, few fruits capture the spirit of autumn so well.
These days, apples applesauce, and the products flavored with them, are now available year-round throughout the world. Even though you can find apples in grocery stores at any time of the year, the great taste of fresh apples carries the delicious charm of fall wherever you find it. Both the sweet flavor and the nutritional benefits of apples make them popular ingredients for everyone from home chefs to major food and drink producers.
One medium apple can get you most of the way to your recommended daily fruit intake, and it will offer up an impressive variety of nutrients along the way. In addition to antioxidants vitamin K and vitamin C, apples also provide dietary fiber and potassium. As is the case with most fruits, the balance of the nutritional value is found in the apple skin, so be sure to leave the skin on if you are trying to eat apples to truly keep the doctor away, as the saying goes.
Eating apples has been linked to improved health outcomes. This ranges from lowering your cholesterol and blood sugar to helping reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Apples have also been linked to weight loss, which makes them a great natural tool in the fight against obesity. In addition to lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, the flavonoids found in apple peels and apple skins are powerful antioxidants that may help lower your cancer risk. As if this were not enough, regularly eating apples has been linked to helping you body manage your blood sugar and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
In some ways, the healthiest fruit is the one you actually eat. While different fruits like blueberries, cranberries, or cherries may have higher levels of specific nutrients, lower levels of sugar or carbohydrates, apples remain some of the most nutritionally significant fruits available simply because they are relatively cheap and easy to come by.
Fruits with lower levels of naturally occurring sugars and carbohydrates are often listed among the healthiest varieties, though this has more to do with a focus on carb intake than the overall health benefits of a particular fruit. The presence of anthocyanins or other compounds in a specific fruit variety can provide benefits beyond just tracking the amount of sugar you take in.
The long list of health benefits of apples extends beyond cardiovascular health. Some studies have shown that there may be neurological benefits to eating apples. Research has indicated compounds found in apples may have a neuroprotective effect that could help stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Not only are fresh, whole apples a juicy, nutritious snack, but products that contain apples are a major part of our diets. Apple juice is used as a natural sweetener in many different beverages, and apple solids can show up as ingredients in many different foods, or even steal the show on their own as dried apple chips. Many different baking applications take advantage of apples in some form or another, even if an apple-flavored product is not the end goal.
Like nearly all plants, apple trees prefer certain growing environments and are susceptible to particular pests. To help combat these limitations, growers are constantly on the lookout for new, better-tasting apple varieties, and new strains are being grown and cultivated around the world all the time. In North America, the states of New York and Washington are major centers of apple production, but varieties of apples can be found growing throughout the upper Midwest and in many provinces of Canada.
Already the full list of apple varieties is quite long, and depending on where you live in the world, there may be local varieties not available elsewhere. Some of the main apple varieties most commonly found in grocery stores in North America include:
One sour note in the symphony of praise for the apple is the presence of amygdalin in apple seeds. If amygdalin is released into your body, it can react and form cyanide. Cyanide is a potent toxin that can be lethal in sufficient doses, but the fear you will poison yourself by eating apple seeds is largely unfounded. Apple seeds have tough, resistant skins that prevent your digestive juices from breaking them down. If you chew apple seeds, there is a possibility that some cyanide could be released into your body, but the amount is so small that it would be nearly impossible for it to have a negative effect on your health.
Another concern some people raise about apples is the presence of pesticides in or on the skins of apples. For those concerned, certified organic apples can provide some assurance the fruits they eat are not bringing them into contact with potentially unhealthy chemicals. Though some people prefer to peel their apples to avoid any pesticides, this removes the most nutritious part of the apple, as many of the polyphenols and other healthy compounds are found in the skin of the apple.
The health benefits of apples are one of the many factors that make them appealing to many food and drink producers. The sweet flavor of apples is a commonly used natural sweetener in many different products, and when eating fresh fruit is not convenient, customers can still get the high-fiber benefits of apples in a wide variety of other products made with apple solids.
The possibility of contamination from toxic seeds in healthy fruit does highlight the importance of working with trusted producers when you are sourcing ingredients for your products. At FruitSmart, our dedication to quality in all of our processes means you can rest assured that our apple products—whether you are using our apple chips, granules, or cold-pressed NFC juices—have been produced with care and experience.
Whether you are looking to develop new offerings, improve the flavor of existing products, or move toward a clean-label approach to the health credentials of your brand, including apples could be the key to creating your next crave-worthy product.
At FruitSmart, our experience working with a wide variety of fruits means we know how to bring out the most natural fruit flavor and color in all our products. From our juices and concentrates to fruit solids and even essences, we work hard to bring you the most potential from every product we make. If you want to know more about the benefits of partnering with FruitSmart to provide the ingredients you want in the size and preparation you need, contact us today.