When it came to the food we eat, there was always the question of which apple to pick.
But it seems as though this question is no longer as pressing as it once was.
In the last year, a new crop of apples has emerged, each more popular than the last.
We’ve all heard the complaints about the taste, and whether the apples are a “healthy” option or not.
But if you ask a food scientist, the answer is no.
So why is this apple such a popular choice?
“We have seen an explosion in the popularity of apple cider in the last two years,” says Mark Gwynn, a food safety expert at the University of Oxford.
In a recent study, Gwynne’s team tested 10 apples from a range of varieties and found that they were both safe and nutritious.
“The apples have a higher antioxidant capacity than other fruits, so they contain a lot of antioxidant vitamins and minerals,” he says.
“They have a very high antioxidant content, which is not necessarily good for you.”
But it’s the vitamins that are the big selling points.
“Vitamins A and C, beta carotene, and vitamin K are particularly important,” says Gwyn.
“So a lot people are thinking that apples are not going to be that good.”
And for a long time, that was true.
“There was no clear evidence that there was any link between eating apples and a lower risk of heart disease,” says Sarah Laski, who worked at the Food Standards Agency in the early 1990s, before the internet became widely available.
But that changed when the UK government introduced a mandatory ban on the use of sugar-sweetened drinks and other sugary foods.
“It was not a good time to be a regular consumer,” she says.
So Gwynns team set out to see how much more apples were really healthy.
They found that a small amount of apple could be a healthy addition to a diet.
And the research shows that, even when you’re not consuming a lot, an apple is still good for your health.
“People who eat apple cider vinegar in salads, or apple cider soup, are less likely to have heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure,” says Laskis.
“And it can also be a good source of antioxidants.”
That’s important, because apple cider can contain potentially harmful levels of the pesticide, methylmercury.
“In a study we did in India, methylmethionine was found to be 100 times higher in apples than in strawberries, but methylmerchanol was the same amount in apples,” she explains.
“But the amount of methylmercyl in the apple is much higher than in the strawberries.”
“There is a huge amount of research into methylmercerol in apples, but we don’t know what the actual levels are,” says Breena Srinivasan, a researcher at the Australian National University.
“I would love to know the concentrations of methylmethylmercurates in the apples.”
So, what’s the bottom line?
“In terms of fruits, they’re pretty much the same as any other food,” says Tanya Kwan, an epidemiologist at the World Health Organization.
“We don’t think of apples as bad for you because they’re fresh, they are relatively cheap, and they are pretty high in vitamins and nutrients.”
But “we need to get to know apples a bit better to really understand what they do in the body,” she adds.
The health benefits of apples