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favorite fruit of the ancient Greeks and Romans, apples have been popular down through the ages. Historically referred to as the “forbidden fruit” in the story of Adam and Eve, immortalized in still life paintings by great artists, and revered by many cultures, the apple is one of the most popular fruits grown worldwide today.

Apples are known for their sweet, or sour, juicy and crisp flesh. There are numerous ways they can be used in sweet and savory dishes, as well as various drinks. However, they are most nutritious when they are eaten raw.

The phytonutrients found in apples are most concentrated in the skin, and are powerful antioxidants. So don’t peel your apples and throw the best part away. The flavonoid quercetin is one of the main antioxidants found in apples, and together with vitamin C, helps to boost the immune system. It is also known to fight viruses and allergies.

There is truth to the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Studies have shown that the phytonutrients in apples can aid in digestion, help lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and severity of asthma.

Unfortunately, apples are heavily sprayed with pesticides and so should always be bought organic. If you want to try your hand at growing your own, apple trees are easy to grow. And if you only have a small yard then why not try planting one as a spindle or espalier, both of which require little space.

Fascinating Facts

►  In America in the 1800s an unknown amount of apple trees were planted across an area of 100,000 square miles by the legendary John Chapman, known as Johnny Appleseed.
►  The wild ancestor of the apple grows in the mountains of Central Asia.
►  There are over 7,500 known cultivars, but only 8 varieties account for over 80% off all commercially sold apples.
►  Apple seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides which can cause stomach ache, or if ingested in large quantities can lead to cyanide poisoning.
►  If stored properly apples can be kept fresh for several months.
►  Apples that are sour and have a low sugar content have more health benefits.
►  Apples are high in fiber, a good source of vitamin C, contain vitamin K, have malic and tartaric acids which help digest fatty foods, and are host to a plethora of phytonutrients.

If you don’t like taking a bite out of a big apple, some great ways to eat apples raw include adding them to salads, having them with veggies and dip, preparing raw applesauce, or making some candied apples.

Caramel apples

Image Copyright © arinahabich – Fotolia.com

However you eat yours, know that you are getting a powerhouse of goodness that your body will thank you for! Let us know what your favorite apple dishes are in the comments below.

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