Backtrack to the last time you snacked on an apple—did you peel and cut the fruit into finger-friendly slices or did you bite into it whole? If you’re guilty of committing the former, here’s some stark news: You’re eating apples all wrong! If you’re taking a knife to the fruit’s nutritious skin, you’re missing out on many incredible health benefits apples have to offer.
According to epidemiological studies conducted around the world, apples have the ability to prevent many chronic ailments plaguing the world today including obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. And most of that free-radical-fighting goodness? It’s found in the skin!
Unfortunately, snacks that are typically made with peeled apples, such as applesauce, are just sugar-filled waist-wideners that mask themselves as health foods. And while the apple slices at McDonald’s are a better option than the French fries, they, too, are missing the many nutrients that whole apples have to offer.
What are the benefits you can only get from the skin?
Many studies show that apples improve brain health, prevent diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, reduce your risk of stroke and diabetes, lower cholesterol, ward off breast cancer, and prevent obesity. They’re full of fiber, vitamins B9 and C (which help form red blood cells and block diseases, respectively), and energy-boosting minerals such as calcium and potassium. While you’re munching on an apple, the fruit can also help remove food particles from your teeth, strengthen your gums, and freshen your breath—acting as nature’s floss. Turns out that an apple a day may keep the dentist away, too!
What kind of apple is best?
With so many different varieties in the produce section, it can be tough to judge on anything other than color and taste. As it turns out, the red breeds have the most anti-inflammatory nutrients, which keep you slim and ward off hunger.
The best of the best, though, are Pink Lady apples, which top the charts when it comes to nutrition. According to a study conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food and University of Western Australia researchers, Pink Lady apples have the most antioxidants and flavonoids compared to any other variety offered in grocery stores. They’re also the first type of apple to be sold under a trademark-protected brand rather than the fruit’s variety name. To qualify as a Pink Lady, apples have to meet a certain criteria in sweetness, crispness, and color.
Does eating the peel mean eating pesticides, too?
Since most of the fiber and antioxidants are in the peel, you’ll want to consume an apple whole to reap the fruit’s full benefits; however, most shoppers know that the skins of fruit and veggies often have pesticide residues. Thankfully, consumers have a trusty resource at our disposal. Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) comes out with a report: Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
The non-profit organization uses data from laboratory tests by the USDA Pesticide Testing Program and the Food and Drug Administration and then ranks fruits and vegetables by concentration of pesticide residue. A piece of produce lands on one of two lists: the “Dirty Dozen” or “Clean Fifteen.” Unfortunately, conventional apples consistently rank on the Dirty Dozen list, and in 2017 they were listed fourth worst for pesticide residues out of 48 items.
To reduce your exposure to pesticides, the EWG recommends opting for organic produce whenever possible for these Dirty Dozen foods, including apples. Shoppers who report they “often or always” buy organic produce have significantly less organophosphate insecticides in their urine samples, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Environment Health Perspectives.
On top of buying organic, if you’re still concerned about bacteria and pesticide residue, check out the best way to wash an apple before digging in.
All in all, apples are a must-have on any grocery list thanks to the plethora of health benefits they offer. From now on, bag the Pink Lady apples and make sure you’re not skimping on the skin when you eat them—after all, that’s one of our 100 Best Weight Loss Tips.