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All About Them Apples
NOTE: This article originally came out in the Jan-Feb issue of Cook Magazine. At the time, I used the byline Mona Gonzalez. When I later realized that there are many people online with the same name, I decided to add my middle name, “Sabalones” to set myself apart. The article below is slightly edited from the original which came out in the magazine.
How many sayings do you know about apples? How about, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” or “An apple for teacher.” And then, there is also the seminal, “How do you like them apples?”
There must be many, many more, just as there are about 7,500 varieties of apples. But just as only a few of these are commercial, only a few “apple” sayings come to mind.
How often do you eat apples?
The big, luscious apples that you see in the supermarket are actually cultivated, originating from tiny sour crab apples. In the Philippines we call the tiny versions “epol”, but actually, they are the real thing.
Homer mentioned apples in his book, “The Odyssey”. Only, he used the word “melon”, which applies to any round fruit. It is possible the “apple” in the Bible’s Song of Solomon was actually quince, a sour but fragrant round fruit.
In America, apples became plentiful thanks to the eccentric Johnny Appleseed, or Jon Chapman from Leominster, Massachusetts in 1775. He collected apple seeds from mills and journeyed up and down the country planting them.
Today many dishes made with apples date back to medieval times, such as apple sauce, fritters, rissoles and drinks. Would an apple a day keep the doctor away? Consider the following:
Health benefits of apples
- Apples help reduce cholesterol, as they contain phytochemicals that act as antioxidants against LDL, the “band” cholesterol that blocks the arteries. Antioxidants also reduce or prevent cell or tissue damage, and inhibit the reproduction of colon cancer cells by 43 percent.
- They help prevent lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. The National Cancer Institute reported that the flavonoids in apples may reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 50 percent. Flavonoids also prevent stroke, and people with a diet rich in flavonoids have a lower incidence of heart disease.
- They promote weight loss. The dietary fiber in apples helps digestion and promotes weight loss. A medium apple contains more fiber than most cereals. Also, they have almost zero fat and cholesterol.
- They keep your lungs healthy. A British study of Welsh men showed that those who ate at least five apples a week had better lung function, and lower risk of respiratory disease. A study of the University of Groningen showed that apples could cut smokers’ risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in half.
- They help improve your dental health. The tannins in apples have anti-adhesion properties that prevent gum disease by preventing dental plaque. Tannins also help prevent urinary tract infections.
- They help estrogen retention. Apples contain boron, a mineral which studies have shown help women maintain estrogen during menopause. This helps reduce hormone-induced symptoms and promotes bone health.
- They help prevent prostate cancer. A 2001 Mayo Clinic study showed that the flavonoid quercitin in apples helps prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells.
12 options out of 7,500
With 7,500 varieties of apples in the world, it may take months choosing which ones to buy. So, we are recommending 12.
- Red Delicious. These are America’s favorite. They have deep ruby skin and a heart shape. Great for snacks.
- Fuji. This apple varies in hue from green-yellow (with red highlights) to sheer red. It is spicy and sweet, great for salads.
- Granny Smith. Bright green with a pink blush. Tart, tangy and crisp to the bite.
- Golden Delicious. Great, all-purpose apple, whether it is cooked or baked. Either way, it maintains its shape and rich, mellow flavor. It’s so tender, it need not be peeled.
- Gala. This makes a perfect snack. It is heart shaped with orange-yellow hues and red stripes. It’s also good for salads.
- Rome Beauty. This is the perfect apple to choose if you plan to cook it. The reason is because it has a very special quality – whether it is sautéed or baked, the flavor becomes richer.
- Braeburn. This is a crisp apple with a wonderful aroma. It is sometimes greenish gold in color, with bits of red. At other times, it is solid red. The Braeburn is perfect for snacks and salads.
- Winesap. This apple is so called because, like wine, it has a tartness and spicy flavor. It is violet red in hue and perfect for cider.
- Criterion. The name may sound like an evil person in a superhero film. Actually, this bold yellow apple is a “bit shy” with its red blush. When you cut this apple, the flesh doesn’t brown. Powerful.
- Pink Lady. This lady has a pink blush on her yellow skin. The taste is sweet-tart, and the flesh is firm and crisp.
- Cameo. This apple has a red stripe over a creamy hued background. It is firm and tastes sweet.
- Jonogold. This tangy, sweet apple has a green-yellow base with blush stripes.