Plant science at the dinner table: apples

Apples are a great choice for an on-the-go snack. Packable and packed with nutrients, Michigan apples are second to none for flavor and crispness.

Apples in a basket
Fresh apples in the fall. Photo credit: Pixabay

Apples are a great choice for an-on-the go snack. They are packable and packed with nutrients. There are many varieties to choose from. Whether you like to eat apples fresh or cooked in a pie or apple crisp, you can find apples year-round for healthy snacking. From the old stand-byes to new market varieties, you can find one that is perfect for you.

Here are a few apple facts to snack on:

  • Apples are fruit called pomes (pomology is the study of fruit).
  • Pomes are fruit that have a "core" of several small seeds, surrounded by a tough membrane.
  • The membrane is encased in an edible layer of flesh.
  • Apple trees are deciduous (they lose their leaves) and have a dormant winter period that requires cold temperatures for the tree to properly break dormancy in spring.
  • Pome fruits are members of the plant family Rosaceae.
  • Michigan is the third largest producer of apples in the United States.
  • There are more than 14.9 million apple trees covering 34,500 acres of Michigan farmland.
  • There are 775 family-run apple orchards in Michigan.
  • More than 16 varieties of apples are grown in Michigan.
  • Paula Red, an early season apple, was discovered in Sparta, Mich. This is a great apple for both eating fresh and cooking.
  • Jonagold was discovered in Europe but tastes sweeter and grows better in Michigan because of the cool climate.

Apples have been extensively researched for their health benefits. This would lead some to believe the popular saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This idiom is said to be of Welsh origin with the broad meaning that eating a healthy diet is good for you.

Here are a few healthy facts about apples:

  • Apples are very rich in fiber. A single medium-sized apple contains about four grams of fiber, about 17% of one’s recommended daily intake.
  • Some of an apple’s fiber content is made up of insoluble and soluble fibers called pectin.
  • The fiber in apples moderates blood sugar levels and is good for the colon.
  • Apples are not particularly rich in vitamins and minerals. However, they contain both vitamin C and potassium.
  • Apples are a good source of several antioxidants, including quercetin, catechin and chlorogenic acid. These plant compounds are responsible for many of the health benefits of apples.
  • Research suggests regular consumption of apples may improve heart health and cut the risk of cancer.
  • Apples are low in calories.
  • Apples are good for your teeth. The fruit’s fleshy fiber helps scrub your teeth, gums and tongue.
  • The apple skin helps to remove stains from your teeth.

Visit a nearby orchard or farmers market and pick up a few delicious Michigan apples. While you are enjoying your fresh apples, check out the following websites to learn more about Michigan’s favorite fruit.

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