Do you routinely peel an apple before eating it? Find out if this is a good health practice.
Biting into a juicy red apple is a quick way to enjoy a nutritious, guilt-free snack. At only eighty calories per medium apple, a high fiber, antioxidant-rich apple may be just what the doctor ordered. But, when you’re ready to enjoy it, should you peel an apple or eat it with the skin still on? From a health standpoint, the decision may be more important than you think.
Many people choose to peel an apple because they fear exposure to pesticides. This is a legitimate concern. Surveys have shown that pesticide residues were found on more than ninety percent of apples tested. Some apples contained the residues of as many as eight different pesticides. In fact, peaches and apples top the list of the most pesticide contaminated fruits on the market. Although peeling an apple may not eliminate all of the pesticides since some can penetrate into the body of the apple, it should lower their levels. Unfortunately, when you peel an apple, you also miss out on some very important phytochemicals.
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that most of the healthful phytochemicals found in apples are concentrated in the apple peel rather than the body of the apple. These include the flavonoids and other chemicals responsible for apple’s anti-cancer benefits. Apples have been shown in some studies to lower the risk of both breast and lung cancer. They also appear to improve lung function and reduce the incidence of asthma. In addition, they reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. When you peel an apple, some of these benefits may be lost.
This isn’t the only drawback to peeling an apple. When the skin is removed, much of the heart-healthy fiber is eliminated. The soluble fiber found in apple peel has been shown to lower levels of LDL, the bad form of cholesterol that clogs the arteries and increases the risk of heart disease. More than three-quarters of this fiber is found in the peel of the apple. This is just one more reason not to take a knife to that juicy, red apple.
What’s the best solution if you want maximum health benefits? The best approach may be to buy certified organic apples, wash them thoroughly, and enjoy them with the peel intact. In this way, you’ll get maximum health benefits from eating apples with less fear of pesticide exposure. If you make your own applesauce, use the whole apple with the peel still on to get the added phytochemicals and fiber that the apple peel has to offer. Enjoy the many health benefits of unpeeled apples!