Keeping the Doctor Away: Apples 101

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Apples are one of the most popular and diverse fruits in the world.  At one point in time, there were over 15,000 different breeds of apples growing in the United States alone.  Today, markets and stores usually carry anywhere from eight to twelve different varieties, although thousands are still grown around the world.

Apples have an immense list of health benefits.  They are high in fiber, vitamin C and many other cancer-fighting antioxidants, which help protect against several types of cancer like colorectal and esophageal.  Various studies by Cornell University and the National Institute of Health have also shown that compounds in the fruit help protect against heart, lung and Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though all apples are healthy, some have different uses and flavors than others.  Below is a list of eight of the most common apple breeds, how they taste, what they look like and how you should prepare them.  


Red Delicious:  According to a Canadian study, this breed has the highest antioxidant content of any other, twice than that of Empire apples.  Like other apples, most of the disease-fighting chemicals are found in the skin, so don’t peel it!  Red Delicious have a sweet, but mild taste.  They are great to use in salads, or as a snack.

Golden Delicious: Many know this variety as the all-purpose apple.  It can be used in sauces, baking or salads because of its subtle, sweet flavor.  Use golden delicious in pies to reduce the sugar content, as they are as sweet as most other breeds.  Use these in our Cranberry Apple Sauce for the perfect combination of sweet and sour!

Granny Smith are some of the most tart and crisp out there.  When added on top, they can really freshen up a dish.  Whether you can enjoy this apple as a snack is really a matter of taste and how much sour you can handle.  Try using Granny Smith in our Simple Baked Apples 

Fuji apples were first introduced to the U.S by Japan in 1962.  They are very sweet and unlike many other apples, they hold their texture very well when baked.  Because their texture is so firm, it is hard for a lot of people to eat just as a snack, so slice them up and put them on a salad to balance out your vinaigrette.

Gala apples have only gained recent popularity in the U.S.  They are tangy and sweet – a good middle ground between Fuji and Granny Smith.  People use them almost exclusively for snacking, but making a sauce out of them would be just as delicious.  Use these in Meg’s Kale with Apples for a sweet and savory treat.

Idared apples are very big, bright and red apples.  Like Red Delicious, they also have a lot of antioxidants.  They are sweet and hold their shape in baking.  Try using these in our Apple Upside-Down Cake.

McIntosh apples are tart and soft.  They make great sauces because of how juicy they are, which also make them difficult to eat raw without a napkin.  These are much harder to make pies with because they cook down very easily.  Baking with McIntosh will not give the texture you desire in an apple dessert.

Registered Dietitian Approved

There are many misconceptions about nutrition and cancer in widespread media. By using current scientific literature, plus recommendations of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Institute for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society, our Registered Dietitian, Kate Ueland, MS, RD, and our team of editors work to help our readers discern truth from myth.

The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Always consult your physician or registered dietitian for specific medical advice.

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