All About Apples
Apples are potentially the most popular and palatable fruits in the world. Apple trees are cultivated mostly from the Malus genus and are grown worldwide. Apples grow and mature in the late summer and autumn months, with trees bearing fruit that is typically around 8 cm in width. Apple trees are deciduous and are believed to originate in Asia. More than 7500 varieties of apples now exist. Plenty of well-known apple varieties are readily available at farmers markets and local stores. Some of these include Red Delicious, Fuji, Royal Gala, Mcintosh and Granny Smith. Apple trees produce pink and white apple blossoms that open and develop fruit.
Each apple cultivar varies in texture, taste, size and colour. Some varieties are better suited to cooking, cider making, juicing, drying or enjoying fresh. The skin of ripe apples can have a green, red, pink or russet skin colour. Several varieties with a mixture of colours are also available. The flesh is typically pale-green or white. It has a firm texture to the bite and a tangy-sweetness and juicy interior.
Apples are important in a long history of cultural and symbolic significance in Nordic, Greek and European cultures. In Norse mythology, apples are associated with eternal youth. Apples are widely connected to fertility and abundance in many pagan and traditional religions. It’s no wonder apples have been shared and enjoyed across cultures and for centuries.
What Are Dried Apples?
Dried apples are as their name describes. They are dried (dehydrated) fruit, which means the moisture content has been removed by a natural or mechanical drying process. The end result is a chewy and thin ‘sliced’ version of a fresh apple. They have been cored prior to drying and some apples are dried with the skin, others with no skin. The overall shape and texture of dried apples will vary depending on the type of apple used. Essentially they are apple rings and are simply delicious. Dried apples have a concentrated sweet apple flavour with a slight tart bite at the end. They’re wonderfully versatile and make the perfect lunch-box snack if you’re looking for a break from sultanas, dates or figs.
Like all other dried fruit, drying apples is a simple and ancient method of fruit preservation. It gives the fruit a longer shelf-life and in some cases can concentrate the antioxidant and polyphenol content. Apples can be dried a number of ways, including sun-dried, air dried, oven-dried or using a dehydrator.
In Australia we’re lucky to have an abundance of home-grown, nutritious apples. Dried Australian apples are a marvellous, sweet and chewy snack that boasts a green or gold colour and fruity flavour. If at all possible, always source preservative-free dried fruits, including dried apples. With no added sugar, dried apples are truly sweet enough with a distinctive and true appley taste.
Are Dried Apples Good For You?
We all know the classic proverb, but there’s something poetic about the Welsh version which celebrates the health benefits of apples: ‘Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread’. Apples are a robust source of vitamin C, plant polyphenols, dietary fibre and carbohydrates.
Here’s some of the most well researched health benefits of apples.
Health Benefits of Dried Apples
- Reduces cancer risk
- Supports microbiome diversity
- Promotes good digestive function
- Protects against cerebrovascular diseases
- Improves cholesterol
- Supports heart health
- Lowers diabetes risk
Apples Are Chemoprotective
All dried fruit has research to support its links to reducing cancer risk. Dried apples are thankfully just as healthy as fresh. A 2021 review published in the journal Nutrients found that the polyphenols found in apples have ‘onco-preventive and chemopreventive’ properties. Various epidemiological studies found patterns of high polyphenol intake from apples and a lower risk of cancer development.
Another study recently found an anti-inflammatory effect from apples on stomach cancer cells. This was primarily due to the cyanidin polyphenols specifically found in apples. The catechins and epicatechin content also displayed antioxidant and apoptotic (cell death) activity, according to the results of this lab study. Another interesting finding was that red apples contained more potent anti-cancer effects compared to green apples.
Apple Fibre Reduces Cardiovascular Disease
There are several areas of health that can be positively influenced by dietary habits. These include cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar control, weight management and reducing inflammation. The consumption of dietary fibre has been connected to all of these health benefits. Addressing these will ultimately reduce the individual risk of cardiovascular disease. As discussed, apples in all forms are a rich source of soluble fibre. A 2021 systematic review published in Reviews in cardiovascular medicine found that apple polyphenols broadly reduced cardiovascular disease. This finding was consistently shown among various clinical trials with respect to reduced LDL cholesterol and inflammation.
Polyphenol Content of Apples
- Phenolic Acid
- Hydroxycinnamic Acid
Apples Protect Against Stroke
Apple polyphenols are also directly related to a reduction in cerebrovascular events and can protect brain cells from damage. The flavonoids found in apples are beneficial for blood flow to the brain and are neuroprotective. Some emerging research shows that apple flavonoids may slow cognitive decline and ageing. It’s also surmised that apple polyphenols can induce neuronal cell growth and promote neuroplasticity.
Apples Improve Digestive & Bowel Health
Michael Ash, a trained functional medicine practitioner with experience in gastrointestinal conditions praises apples as a ‘functional food’ that has several health-giving qualities. Importantly, the pectin found in apples (even dried apples) is a valuable source of prebiotic fibre. This fermentable fibre provides a food source for digestive bacteria. The by-product of fermentation in the gut is a resulting short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate has a strong protective influence on immune function in inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis.
Pectin has other advantages to human health. The high solubility of pectin means it forms a fibre gel in the intestines. One function of this is that it slows down the digestion of high carbohydrate foods, which means pectin can be a hypoglycemic agent. Pectin can also bind heavy metals, facilitating their clearance through the bowels. This can improve hormones, nervous system and immune function. It’s also believed that pectin has a preventative role in cancer development.
Are Organic Dried Apples Healthier?
According to the Environmental Working Group, apples are among some of the most heavily sprayed fruits in conventional agriculture. Pesticides wreak havoc with hormones, brain and gut function and are best avoided or limited wherever possible. Moreover, some research indicates that organic apples appear to have a higher total polyphenol content compared with conventionally grown apples. It’s for these reasons that I always prefer organically grown apples, and dried apples as well.
How To Enjoy Dried Apples
Dried apples can be used similarly to other dried fruits. They are a palm-sized and convenient snack just on their own. Dried apples are perfect for toddlers or busy kids in the playground. The slightly chewy and soft texture makes them a great contrast to plenty of foods. Ways to enjoy them include:
- Chopped up in cereals or granola
- Adoring cakes and slices
- Halved into a mixed fruit and nut grazing plate
- Simply on their own
How To Store Dried Apples
Ideally, store dried apples in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. If stored correctly, your dried apples will have 6-9 months of shelf life. Always read the best before date.
Bondonno, C. P., Bondonno, N. P., Shinde, S., Shafaei, A., Boyce, M. C., Swinny, E., Jacob, S. R., Lacey, K., Woodman, R. J., Croft, K. D., Considine, M. J., & Hodgson, J. M. (2020). Phenolic composition of 91 Australian apple varieties: towards understanding their health attributes. Food & function, 11(8), 7115–7125. https://doi.org/10.1039/d0fo01130d
Clinical Education, Michael Ash, Stewed Apples: Is This a Perfect Functional Meal for Mucosal Tolerance?, https://www.clinicaleducation.org/resources/reviews/is-this-a-perfect-functional-meal-for-mucosal-tolerance/, viewed 29 April 2022
Han, M., Li, A., Shen, T., Meng, J., Lei, Y., Zhang, X., Liu, P., Gan, L., Ao, L., & Li, H. (2019). Phenolic compounds present in fruit extracts of Malus spp. show antioxidative and pro-apoptotic effects on human gastric cancer cell lines. Journal of food biochemistry, 43(11), e13028. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfbc.13028
Jung, M., Triebel, S., Anke, T., Richling, E., & Erkel, G. (2009). Influence of apple polyphenols on inflammatory gene expression. Molecular nutrition & food research, 53(10), 1263–1280. https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.200800575
Mattioli, R., Francioso, A., Mosca, L., & Silva, P. (2020). Anthocyanins: A Comprehensive Review of Their Chemical Properties and Health Effects on Cardiovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25(17), 3809. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25173809
Mieder, Wolfgang (1992). A Dictionary of American Proverbs. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 54
Nezbedova, L., McGhie, T., Christensen, M., Heyes, J., Nasef, N. A., & Mehta, S. (2021). Onco-Preventive and Chemo-Protective Effects of Apple Bioactive Compounds. Nutrients, 13(11), 4025. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13114025
Sowa A, Zgórka G, Szykuła A, Franiczek R, Żbikowska B, Gamian A, Sroka Z. Analysis of Polyphenolic Compounds in Extracts from Leaves of Some Malus domestica Cultivars: Antiradical and Antimicrobial Analysis of These Extracts. Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:6705431. doi: 10.1155/2016/6705431. Epub 2016 Dec 14. PMID: 28097143; PMCID: PMC5206859.
Surampudi, P., Enkhmaa, B., Anuurad, E., & Berglund, L. (2016). Lipid Lowering with Soluble Dietary Fiber. Current atherosclerosis reports, 18(12), 75. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11883-016-0624-z
Rees, A., Dodd, G. F., & Spencer, J. (2018). The Effects of Flavonoids on Cardiovascular Health: A Review of Human Intervention Trials and Implications for Cerebrovascular Function. Nutrients, 10(12), 1852. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10121852
Vallée Marcotte, B., Verheyde, M., Pomerleau, S., Doyen, A., & Couillard, C. (2022). Health Benefits of Apple Juice Consumption: A Review of Interventional Trials on Humans. Nutrients, 14(4), 821. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14040821
Wikipedia Contributors. (2022, April 29). Apple. Retrieved from Wikipedia website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple, viewed 29 April 2022
Wojdyło, A., Oszmiański, J., & Laskowski, P. (2008). Polyphenolic compounds and antioxidant activity of new and old apple varieties. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 56(15), 6520–6530. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf800510j
Zhu, X., Xu, G., Jin, W., Gu, Y., Huang, X., & Ge, L. (2021). Apple or apple polyphenol consumption improves cardiovascular disease risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reviews in cardiovascular medicine, 22(3), 835–843. https://doi.org/10.31083/j.rcm2203089