Apples are one of the most-loved fruits in the Western world. They are enjoyed for their taste and their health benefits. There are more than 10,000 different kinds (or cultivars) of apple in the world, although just a handful of these are well known.

The History of the Apple

The apple has been a part of human diets throughout history. Archaeologists have found the remains of apples in settlements dating back to the Iron Age and some historians believe that Stone Age people would slice and sun-dry apples to preserve them. For this reason, apples are an important part of the Paleo diet.

Popular variations of apples include Golden Delicious, Cortland, Red Delicious, Empire and Fuji. Each kind of apple has its own distinct colour and flavour. Some kinds of apple, such as the Fuji, are tart and crisp, while others, such as the Cortland, are sweeter and juicier. Sweet varieties are good for general consumption, while tarter ones are often used for cooking.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of the apple were first documented in the encyclopaedia produced by Bartholomeus Anglicus, in 1470. He said of the apple that it is “gracious in sight and in taste and virtuous in medicine”.

The old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, comes from this perception of the apple as having medicinal properties. The saying was popularised by J.T. Sinson during a lecture at the World’s Fair in Missouri. Old wives’ tales have good intentions behind them (if not always scientific knowledge) and in this case, it’s true that apples contain a lot of important nutrients and can be part of a healthy diet.

The average apple contains:

  • Vitamin A
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Panthothenic acid
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Zinc

Apple peel contains phytochemicals, which are thought to be nutritionally important. The fruit also contains antioxidants, as well as a significant amount of fibre in the skins.

Pesticides and Fruit

In recent years, there has been a lot of concern over the amount of pesticides that our foods are exposed to. In 2011, the apple made the top of the “dirty dozen” list of foods containing significant amounts of pesticides, with strawberries, peaches, peppers and potatoes also ranking high on the list. Washing food removes some pesticides and peeling food is another good way to remove some of the residue. However, if you peel an apple you lose out on the dietary fibre and the nutrients in the skin.

If you are following a Paleo diet then you will most likely be making an effort to purchase organic foods, which are produced without the use of pesticides. The Paleo diet involves eating unprocessed, organic foods of the kind that your Paleolithic ancestors would have eaten. Following this sort of diet helps you to avoid drugs in meats and pesticides in your fruit and vegetables, as well as encouraging you to eat in a more satisfying and nutritionally sound way. It is also a good method of losing weight.