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Apples are fleshy fruits that are sweet or slightly sour. Ripe apples are crisp and juicy. Not only do they taste great, they are also nutritious and have several health benefits. The exterior of the fruit is red, yellow, green, or some combination of the three, depending on the variety, and the inside is white. There are more than 7,000 varieties of apples, but they more or less have the same structure and contain similar phytonutrients, which are the molecules responsible for the beneficial properties of apples. Some of these varieties are listed below, with information about their appearance, taste, and harvest time.
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List of Common Apple Varieties
Here is some interesting information about the apple varieties that are commonly consumed. Different types of apples have slightly different flavors and skin texture.
- Red Delicious - The Red Delicious variety is the most common apple in the United States. It is bright red and tastes sweet, and it is typically harvested between September and November.
- Fuji - The Fuji apple was produced in Japan from two other apple varieties, namely the Red Delicious and Ralls Genet. Most of the apple is pinkish-red but a few spots blend into a yellowish-green color. It has a sweet taste, and it is available from October to August.
- Granny Smith - The Granny Smith apple is a green variety that has a tart flavor. It is harvested in late October and is available year round. It is typically used in salads, pies, and sauces.
- Golden Delicious - The Golden Delicious apple is a sweet tasting, bright yellow fruit. It is harvested from mid September to late October and available in markets throughout the year.
- Braeburn - The skin of the Braeburn apple is orange-red with some yellow near the stem. It has a moderately tart flavor and is in season between November and April.
- Cameo - The Cameo apple has a taste that is described as tangy, but it becomes less so once it is stored for a while. It has numerous white spots on top of a red skin. This apple is harvested in September or October.
- Jonagold - The Jonagold apple is sweet, with a hint of tartness. It was produced from the Golden Delicious and Jonathan varieties. This apple is available from October to May.
- McIntosh - The McIntosh apple is red and green, and it has a slightly tart flavor. It is commonly prepared as a snack or sauce and is available from September to June.
- Honeycrisp - This red and yellow apple features a sweet taste. It is used to prepare several types of foods, but it isn't recommended for pies. Honeycrisp is in season from September to January.
- Baldwin - The Baldwin is a red skinned apple streaked with yellow. It has a sweet to slightly tart flavor and is available from October to February.
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Health Benefits of Apples
Whether you eat the Red Delicious or the Granny Smith, expect to receive similar health benefits. All apples are rich in phytonutrients, especially flavonols, anthocyanins, and phenolic acids. Apples with red skin, such as the Red Delicious, have more anthocyanins than other types of apples.
Quercetin is a flavonol that is more abundant in the skin than the pulp. The Jonagold and Golden Delicious apple are good sources of quercetin. Another beneficial compound in most apples is chlorogenic acid, which is a phenolic acid that is concentrated mostly in the pulp.
Most of these compounds have antioxidant properties. One area that benefits greatly from the antioxidant effects of apples is the membrane of cells. Specifically, these compounds reduce the oxidation of cell membrane fats. By preventing damage to the membranes of cells that line blood vessels, the risk of developing atherosclerosis is reduced.
In addition to the phytonutrients, apples are a great source of water soluble fiber, specifically pectin. The combination of these compounds has a beneficial impact on the cardiovascular system. Research has shown that the total cholesterol level and LDL level drops with regular consumption of apples. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties that are believed to cause the level of C-reactive protein to drop.
The compounds in apples may also aid in the regulation of blood sugar levels. Some inhibits digestive enzymes that breakdown carbohydrates, resulting in fewer simple sugars entering the bloodstream. Other compounds slow down glucose absorption. Apples may also stimulate insulin production and increase the sensitivity of insulin receptors.
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1. All About Apples - http://www.allaboutapples.com/varieties/
2. Fruit and Veggie Guru - http://www.fruitandveggieguru.com/apples.html
3. WHFoods: Apples - http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=15#healthbenefits
4. The Benefits of Apples - http://www.leonoredvorkin.com/henu/benapples.php
Image Credit - Flickr/Alanna Risse