I recently conducted an experiment on Google. I gave myself five minutes and Googled the phrase “bad foods”.
I like to try these types of “experiments” to see what the average consumer of nutrition information might find when exposed to the vast expanses of the Internet. Unsurprisingly, many of the foods I found categorized as “bad” are actually very nutritious. Oatmeal, olive oil, asparagus, beans, nuts, garlic…all were classified as “bad” foods by one source or another on my five minute trip down the Google rabbit hole.
One food, however, seemed to come up far more often than I expected and bothered me more than most of the others: apples.
Have we really reached the point where people worry about the health value of apples? It seems so. The reasons for putting apples in the “unhealthy” category ranged from simply “having fructose” to being “just another source of sugar”.” There were some criticisms of apples’ effects on dental health, which I am less qualified to refute. I doubt, however, that most people eat the amount of apples that would likely be needed to damage tooth enamel. But let’s take a close look at apples and why “an apple a day” is still a very good thing.
There are many types of apples, but most share similar nutritional characteristics. The highlights include fiber (around 20% of daily needs in a large apple), vitamin C, and potassium. Fiber and potassium, in particular, are nutrients of concern as most Americans don’t get enough of them.
As far as sugar goes, it’s true that most of the calories in apples do come from sugar. Fructose, to be more exact. Fructose has gotten a really bad rap as the poster nutrient for processed foods. And it’s true that high fructose corn syrup is a main ingredient in many packaged foods that aren’t especially nutritious.
Apples, however, are an entirely different story. When it comes to sugar, you have to consider the source. In an apple, you aren’t just getting sugar – you’re getting a diverse nutritional package with fiber to sustain your fullness and regulate bowel function, plus a host of other vitamins and minerals in varying amounts. Milk has sugar too (lactose is a natural sugar), but when you pair it with protein, calcium, and vitamin D you can be assured that, like apples, it’s not a source of sugar you should be avoiding.
Besides, most of us don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Apples are naturally sweet and delicious, so why not enjoy their naturally wonderful flavor to help make sure you’re getting the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients that our bodies need to thrive?
So, how do you like them apples?