Golden, Reinette and many others: we are talking about apples, the best friends of our health. Sweet and juicy fruits, protagonists of ancient myths and legends, apples are rich in beneficial properties and are undoubtedly among the most loved and consumed fruits. Belonging to the Rosaceae family, apples grow on a tree that can reach a height of about 8 meters, the apple tree, probably appeared since the Neolithic period in Asia Minor. Apples, which we can find in thousands of different varieties, can be eaten both raw and cooked and can be protagonists of many recipes. Let's see everything there is to know about this fruit, and let’s find out why it helps us keep doctors away.
The properties of apples
Apples are composed of about 85% water, 0.2 grams of protein, 2.6 grams of fiber for a caloric level of 38 kcal. Here's what they contain in detail:
they are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that favors the slow absorption of glucose inside our body;
they also have a good amount of vitamins A, E, which also act as antioxidants, but also K and C vitamins, depending on the variety;
they contain vitamin B1 which helps fight appetite and fatigue and vitamin B2 which helps strengthen hair and nails;
they are low in carbohydrates and rich in fiber, which helps intestinal regularity;
they also contain a good level of mineral salts: among these there is potassium, which prevents hypertension and helps regulate kidney function.
The benefits of apples
The popular sayings always have a fund of truth and this certainly applies to "an apple a day keeps the doctor away": the apples are in fact considered to all effects sources of health and well-being, true natural medicines for our body. Apples are very poor in fat, rich in simple sugars and low in calories (about 40 per 100grams of apples). The presence of simple sugars, unlike the complex ones, makes the properties of the apples immediately assimilable by our body: this is why they are an excellent snack suitable for any time of the day: they are also recommended for those who do sports to recover their energy after a workout.
The presence of pectin, which we find especially in the peel, makes this fruit suitable also for those who follow a diet aimed at controlling diabetes, thanks to its low glycemic index. We have seen how its composition helps against tiredness, nervousness, hypertension but perhaps not everyone knows that apples are also excellent allies for the balance of our digestive system: if consumed raw, apples have a slightly astringent effect while, once cooked, they can help those with constipation problems.
Apple juice also contains a high concentration of beta-carotene and phosphoric acids that make it an excellent natural cosmetic: carotenoids, in fact, are antioxidants that act especially on the well-being of hair, skin and nails. Regularly consumed, apples help lower "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and help those who suffer from asthma: in short, they are the fruit that must never be missing in our dietary regime, be it a healthy snack, or a good breakfast to start the day together with a glass of water and lemon, or after a meal.
There are about 7500 varieties of apples in the world: all of them are excellent for our health, they differ in color, compactness and taste. Among the most famous types we can find:
Reinette apple. Its name means queen and this apple is considered one of the most exquisite apples: the yellow skin with streaks preserves a firm but juicy pulp. It is very suitable for desserts and it is no coincidence that it is the variety used for apple strudel and, more generally, for South Tyrolean apple desserts.
Granny Smith apple. The classic green apple, of Australian origin, but which today is grown in many areas of the world. It has a slightly sour and juicy taste and a refreshing aftertaste. It is mainly used raw, although sometimes it can be found in some savory dishes.
Golden Delicious apple. This apple is known for the balance of its flavor but also for its ability to adapt to adverse conditions. It has the classic yellow skin, with sometimes some nuances, the taste is sweet and sugary, while its consistency is compact, almost crunchy. It is a very versatile apple: it is used both raw and cooked, especially for desserts, but it is also suitable for preparing savory dishes.
Stark Delicious apple. Do you remember the red apple of Snow White? Here it is, the Stark Delicious apple with an intense red skin, co-protagonist of the famous fairy tale. Its pulp is sweet and free of acidity, while its powdery consistency makes it perfect for cooking.
Royal Gala apple. The ideal apple for smoothies, centrifuges and fruit juices. Juicy, sweet but not too aromatic, crunchy.
Fuji apple. The classic Japanese apple, probably the most cultivated variety in the world. Born in the Land of the Rising Sun, in 1939, after a series of selected crosses, it has a reddish skin with streaks ranging from shades of straw yellow to those of green. It has a sweet and juicy taste and a crunchy texture.
A separate discussion should be made for the Apple of Val di Non (Italy), the only apple in the world with the Protected Designation of Origin. In reality the PDO does not refer to a specific variety, but the varieties of Golden Delicious, Canada Reinette and Red Delicious exclusively grown in the specific territory of the hydrographic basin of the Noce stream that falls into the Val di Sole and into the Val di Non.
Uses in the kitchen: the best recipes with apples
If it is true that we are used to eating raw apples (better if well washed and with skin), the apples can also be cooked both in sweet preparations such as the classic grandmother's apple pie, and in savory recipes thanks to the low amount of sugar present, which makes them extremely versatile in the kitchen. One of the savory recipes that we have most appreciated for simplicity and taste is the chicken with apples, a second alternative dish in which fruit sugars help the meat to become tender and juicy.