An apple is an apple is an apple. Right? What if I were to tell you that some varieties contain more than twice the antioxidants of others? Or that in the endless quest for sweetness, the sugar content of some has jumped by 80%, making some new varieties almost a fifth pure sugar (roughly twice as sweet as Coca-Cola). With stats like these, knowing which varieties to pick makes a big nutritional difference.
A 2011 trial published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine illustrates the impact on health of choosing the right cultivar. Following the “apple a day" adage, researchers investigated the effect on heart health of adding one 'Golden Delicious' apple to the daily diet of a small group of overweight men. By the end of the eight-week trial, the men exhibited higher levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, putting them at a greater risk of heart disease. The researchers concluded that these counterintuitive findings were due to the variety of apple chosen, reporting the higher sugar and low-phenolic content of 'Golden Delicious' apples. They contain up to 75% fewer polyphenols than other commonly tested varieties.
Luckily breeders are unleashing new supercharged red-fleshed apples, which can contain up to twice the polyphenols and five times the healthy anthocyanins of regular light-fleshed apples (not to mention their beautiful pink blossom and dusky foliage.) Look out for 'Redlove' (above) or 'Bloody Ploughman' in a shop near you soon. Breeders have used wild apples from their original home in Kazakhstan – many of these varieties are under threat due to forest clearance, showing how vital conservation work is for the future of our food. Better nutrition, stunning flowers and the snob food value of serving up pink apple crumble at your next dinner party? Not a bad deal.
Once established, apples are one of the easiest fruits to grow, capable of kicking out decades of harvests for the 30 minutes it takes to plant one. Pick a sunny site with well-drained soil and make sure you keep plants evenly watered for their first year or so of growth. After that they will largely look after themselves.As well as 'Redlove' (above) and 'Bloody Ploughman', look out for 'Sangrado', 'Redfield' and 'Raspberry Ripple', all red-fleshed apples that are particularly high in anthocyanins. (Avoid 'Pink Lady', 'Golden Delicious' and 'Jonagold', which have high sugar contents.) Your apples' phytonutrient content can be further spiked by thinning out the canopy in the summer to allow the fruit to bask in full sun (as well as planting the tree in the sunniest spot you have).
Let's note that for production of new race of this fruit the scientists used wild applaes that grow in Kazakhstan.
Source: theguardian.com On photo: A 'Redlove' apple: researchers found that an apple a day could actually increase the risk of heart disease. Photograph: Alamy