Apples are one of the world's most popular fruits with over 7,500 different cultivars grown from the modern domesticated species Malus domestica.
Apple trees can grow all over the globe and therefore many types have been cultivated in varied regions. For example, the Fuji apple comes from Japan, the Granny Smith from Australia and the Red Delicious from the United States. The apple has more varieties than any other fruit known.
Many botanists believe the modern apple cultivars initially came from the wild apple Malus sieversii native to Kazakhstan, a country bordering Russia and China.
Specifically, a region called Almaty or "rich with apple" is believed to be its ancestral home. Malus sieversii is still found growing in the hills of Kazakhstan among many other wild variations.
Depending on their color, taste and texture, apples fall into one or more general classes that are bred for specific purposes.
These are dessert or table apples which are often eaten raw, cooking apples which are usually firmer and tarter to hold up to heat, and cider apples which are characterized by their high sugar content yet bitter and astringent qualities useful when cider making. Some apples commonly occupy more than one of these categories.
Generally, raw apples are usually about 85% water and a good source of fiber but can vary in sugar content depending on the cultivar. According to nutrition data, one med-size raw apple with the peel may contain about 17% the Daily Value for dietary fiber, 14% for vitamin C, 5% for vitamin K, 6% for potassium and trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
The skin of the fruit is commonly rich in antioxidant polyphenols like catechin, epicatechin, procyanidins, anthocyanins but especially QUERCETIN which helps foster immune and anti-inflammatory functions. (*)
While apples aren't usually considered a superfruit, they are known for their higher amount of PECTIN content. This is a type of soluble fiber that is believed to support a healthy colon, as shown in some recent research. Pectin-rich apples are also a prebiotic food and a good way to encourage good gut bacteria and a balanced microbiome.
Pectin is a type of polysaccharide used commercially as a gelling or thickening agent. When you eat an apple, this quality is also helpful for normalizing bowel movements and preventing stool dryness. (*) We often like to consume one in the early morning hours to promote such properties. The tart varieties, with their sour taste, are particularly helpful for such purposes.
It's good to purchase organic apples whenever possible as commercial apples are on the list of highly sprayed fruits.
Apple trees are one of those fruit species, like fig trees, that once established in the landscape, grow very well as a wild species.. We always promote consuming a portion of wild foods in the diet as they can provide beneficial levels of nutrition that we don't normally get from commercially-grown foods.
In the U.S., wild apple trees often remain from colonial days when they were once a significant fruit crop for many homesteads. Wild apples commonly have a very crisp hard texture, pleasant tartness and subtly sweet flavor. They are also usually smaller than commercial cultivars.
Apples are probably one of the most frequently consumed fruits worldwide, but does "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"?
There is some evidence that one of the health benefits of eating apples as part of a health-promoting diet is their protective influence on the cardiovascular system and cholesterol-related issues. This is mostly due to their high fiber content and antioxidant polyphenols. For highest nutrition potential, apples are best consumed with peel which contains most of the antioxidants and one half to two thirds the fiber.
Apples are also found to be one of the fruits thought to offer protection against type 2 diabetes when consumed several times a week or once daily compared to no apple intake.
Fresh apples make a great juicing fruit for making apple juice or as an ingredient in a homemade green juice recipe.
Raw apples can be dehydrated as a dried fruit but, unlike other fruits, apples do not freeze well nor can they be stored for extended periods. They are therefore often cooked and blended with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cardamom and vanilla when making apple sauce, apple butter, chutneys or preserves.
Apples are used in countless dessert recipes like the classic American apple pie and Austrian apple strudel. Other common ways to use apples are when making apple cider vinegar, sweet apple cider or hard cider.
The apple appears in many religious traditions and is often depicted to be Adam and Eves "forbidden fruit" growing in the Garden of Eden. The term Adam's apple, the protruding larynx in the throat that's typically larger in males, comes from this reference.
The apple when cut crossways reveals a five-pointed star or pentagram, a symbol of which has taken on different meanings throughout history and religions. It is often viewed to represent the five elements, fire, earth, metal, water and wood.
The apple’s meaning in secular historical art usually represents sexuality, fertility and love, which is the reason it has a close association with the goddess Venus, frequently portrayed holding an apple in her hand.
There are several ethnic folk legends and Greek myths referencing the "golden apple" commonly used to entice a victory.