06 Oct 2023
Meta-analyses link apples in our diets to:
How much? Every increase of one serving per week was associated with a 3% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Higher intake was defined as over 6 servings per week - so almost an apple a day!
A sprinkle of nuance: As always, these studies come with limitations that deserve consideration. Studies differ in defining ‘high intake,’ methodologies vary, and confounding factors, like overall healthy lifestyles, may influence the results.
Apples are a source of:
Fibre spotlight! Pectin is a major component of apple dietary fibres. It shows various health activities in lab studies, including a positive impact on blood lipids and detoxification properties by binding heavy metals.
Don’t forget the peel: It contains about 2 to 3 times as much fibre as the pulp.
How does it work? Bioactive compounds in apples may support health by improving antioxidant capacity, regulating inflammatory signalling pathways and regulating glucose levels. (Zhang et al. 2023)
Apples in our diets are nothing new. The history of apples is deeply intertwined with humanity.
In the wild: People have been collecting the fruits of wild apple trees across Europe and West Asia for more than 10,000 years. Ancient seeds, dating back to the Neolithic era, offer glimpses into humans’ close relationship with these trees.
Along the Silk Road: Humans started moving apple fruits across Eurasia along the Silk Road. The process of exchange brought different apple trees into contact with each other. With the help of bees and other pollinators, hybrid fruits were created.
To the modern apple: Farmers started noticing the larger fruiting trees and fixed this trait in place. Genetic studies show that the modern apple is a hybrid of at least four wild apple populations. These hybrid plants possess the traits we see in our markets today like bigger, sweeter and firmer fruits - creating our modern apple.
Where did local apples go? The UK has a rich history of apple cultivation. Yet, large supermarkets seem to offer anything but locally grown apples. What’s going on? It was reported that British apple growers are caught in a tough spot with rising costs causing them to cancel tree orders. While shoppers are already paying 23% more for apples, growers are not receiving a fair return from supermarkets, leading to a significant reduction in profit and substantial losses. Read more in these articles from Natoora and Wicked Leeks.
Pick diversity: Apples are a very diverse fruit. In the UK alone, there are over 2,500 varieties, with over 7,000 varieties worldwide. This means you could eat a different UK variety every day for over 6 years! Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to find most varieties in supermarkets – Braeburn and Gala, natives to New Zealand, account for a large proportion of British sales. If you have direct access to a grower, mix it up with seasonal varieties like Red Pippin and Spartan.
Apples around the world
5 ways to enjoy apples this season:
TDK recipes to try
Human studies: Fabiani et al. R. Public Health Nutrition. 2016 - Guo et al. Food & function. 2017 - Gayer et al. Current Developments in Nutrition. 2019
History: Spengler et al. Front. Plant Sci. 2019,