In the United States, more than 25 varieties of apples are available; they vary not only in color and appearance but also in sweetness, flavor, and tartness. For example, Golden and Red Delicious apples are mild and sweet, while Pippins and Granny Smith apples are notably brisk and tart. Tart apples are better able to retain their texture during cooking, while sweeter varieties, such as Delicious, Braeburn, and Fugi apples, are usually eaten raw.
Apples are an excellent source of vitamin C, pectin, and other fibers. They are also a good source of potassium. Most of the apple's important nutrients are contained in its skin, and raw apples are higher in many nutrients and phytochemicals as well. If apples apples are raw and unpeeled, they are great sources of many important phytochemicals, such as ellagic acid and flavonoids (especially quercetin).
The old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” appears to be true. In an analysis of more than 85 studies, apple consumption was shown to be consistently associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma, and type 2 diabetes compared to other fruits and vegetables.
Researchers feel that much of apples' protective effects against heart disease and asthma is related to their high content of flavonoids like quercetin. Apples are also very high in pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to exert a number of beneficial effects. Because it is a gel-forming fiber, pectin can lower cholesterol levels as well as improve the intestinal muscle's ability to push waste through the gastrointestinal tract.
Apple season begins at the end of summer and runs until early winter, so look for fresh, local apples at your market and enjoy picking them yourself. Whenever possible, it is strongly encouraged to buy organic fruit. Nonorganic apples are sprayed with many dangerous chemicals, one of them being alar. Furthermore, nonorganic apples are often waxed to prolong their freshness.
Apples should be firm, crisp, and well colored. Apples that are immature and ripened artificially will be less vibrant. Mature apples produce a characteristic snap when you apply fingernail pressure to break the skin. These have more color and enhanced flavor and will store longer.