An apple is a sweet, edible fruit produced by an apple tree (Malus pumila). Apple trees are cultivated worldwide, and are the most widely grown species in the genus Malus. The tree originated in Central Asia, where its wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, is still found today. Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have religious and mythological significance in many cultures, including Norse, Greek and European Christian traditions.
Apple trees are large if grown from seed. Generally apple cultivars are propagated by grafting onto rootstocks, which control the size of the resulting tree. There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, eating raw and cider production. Trees and fruit are prone to a number of fungal, bacterial and pest problems, which can be controlled by a number of organic and non-organic means. In 2010, the fruit’s genome was sequenced as part of research on disease control and selective breeding in apple production.
Worldwide production of apples in 2014 was 84.6 million tonnes, with China accounting for 48% of the total.
The center of diversity of the genus Malus is in eastern present-day Turkey. The apple tree was perhaps the earliest tree to be cultivated,and its fruits have been improved through selection over thousands of years. Alexander the Great is credited with finding dwarfed apples in Kazakhstan in 328 BCE. Winter apples, picked in late autumn and stored just above freezing, have been an important food in Asia and Europe for millennia.
Of the many Old World plants that the Spanish introduced to Chiloé Archipelago in the 16th century, apple trees became particularly well adapted.Apples were introduced to North America by colonists in the 17th century, and the first apple orchard on the North American continent was planted in Boston by Reverend William Blaxton in 1625.The only apples native to North America are crab apples, which were once called “common apples”. Apple cultivars brought as seed from Europe were spread along Native American trade routes, as well as being cultivated on colonial farms. An 1845 United States apples nursery catalogue sold 350 of the “best” cultivars, showing the proliferation of new North American cultivars by the early 19th century. In the 20th century, irrigation projects in Eastern Washington began and allowed the development of the multibillion-dollar fruit industry, of which the apple is the leading product.
Until the 20th century, farmers stored apples in frostproof cellars during the winter for their own use or for sale. Improved transportation of fresh apples by train and road replaced the necessity for storage.Controlled atmosphere facilities are used to keep apples fresh year-round. Controlled atmosphere facilities use high humidity, low oxygen, and controlled carbon dioxide levels to maintain fruit freshness. They were first used in the United States in the 1960s.
A study published in the Journal of Food Science in 2008 suggested that eating apples may have benefit for your neurological health.
The researchers found that including apples in your daily diet may protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Reducing your risk of stroke
A study involving 9,208 men and women showed that those who ate the most apples over a 28-year period had the lowest risk for stroke.
The researchers concluded that the intake of apples is related to a decreased risk of thrombotic stroke.4
Lowering levels of bad cholesterol
A group of researchers at The Florida State University stated that apples are a “miracle fruit”.
They found that older women who ate apples everyday had 23% less bad cholesterol (LDL) and 4% more good cholesterol (HDL) after just six months.
Reducing your risk of diabetes
Apples could also help lower your risk of diabetes. A study involving 187,382 people found that people who ate three servings per week of apples, grapes, raisins, blueberries or pears had a 7% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not.
Warding off breast cancer
There is growing evidence suggesting that an apple a day may help prevent breast cancer, according to a series of studies conducted by prominent Cornell researcher Rui Hai Liu.
Liu said her research adds to “the growing evidence that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, including apples, would provide consumers with more phenolics, which are proving to have important health benefits. I would encourage consumers to eat more and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily.”
In a study published in the journal Food Chemistry in 2014, a team of researchers analyzed how the bioactive compounds of seven different varieties of apples – Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Red Delicious – affected the good gut bacteria of diet-induced obese mice.
The researchers found that, compared with all other apple varieties, Granny Smiths appeared to have the most beneficial effect on good gut bacteria. They suggest that their findings may lead to strategies that prevent obesity and its associated disorders.
Apples deserve to be called “nutritional powerhouses”. They contain the following important nutrients:
- Vitamin C – a powerful natural antioxidant capable of blocking some of the damage caused by free radicals, as well as boosting the body’s resistance against infectious agents, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.1
- B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B-6) – these vitamins are key in maintaining red blood cells and the nervous system in good health.
- Dietary fiber – the British National Health Service2 says that a diet high in fiber can help prevent the development of certain diseases and may help prevent the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood from rising.
- Phytonutrients – apples are rich in polyphenolic compounds”. These phytonutrients help protect the body from the detrimental effects of free radicals.
- Minerals such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Apples, with skin (edible parts) nutritional value per 100 grams
|Energy – 52 kcal||Carbohydrates – 13.81 g|
|Fat – 0.17 g||Protein – 0.26 g|
|Water – 85.56 g||Sodium – 1 mg|
|Beta-carotene – 27 μg||Lutein and zeaxanthin – 29 μg|
|Thiamin (vitamin B1) – 0.017 mg||Vitamin A equiv – 3 μg|
|Riboflavin (vitamin B2) – 0.026 mg||Niacin (vitamin B3) – 0.091 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) – 0.061 mg||Vitamin B6 – 0.041 mg|
|Folate (vitamin B9) – 3 μg||Vitamin C – 4.6 mg|
|Vitamin E – 0.18 mg||Vitamin K – 2.2 μg|
|Calcium – 6 mg||Iron – 0.12 mg|
|Magnesium – 5 mg||Manganese – 0.035 mg|
|Phosphorus – 11 mg||Potassium – 107 mg|
Note: the average size of an apple is 150 grams