Food for Thought: A-peel-ing apples

By Nancy Schuster
Frontier Extension District Agent

October is National Apple Month. All children know this common apple saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. This saying was derived from the old English saying, “Ate an apfel avore gwain to bed, make the doctor beg his bread,” but the original author of this most popular apple saying has been lost to history. Today, the expression rings truer than ever, as our knowledge of apples’ many and numerous health benefits increases.

It turns out that eating an apple a day really does keep the doctor away – but you’ve got to eat the peel! And no fair skipping the apple altogether in favor of megadoses of vitamins in pill form; fruits and vegetables in their natural state are better, Cornell University researchers say.

“The pharmaceutical companies will not be happy with me, but I think the consumer gets more health benefits from eating whole fruits and vegetables,” lead researcher Rui Hai Liu, M.D., Ph.D., says. “You get much more antioxidant activity, you get a variety of antioxidants, and you don’t have to worry about toxicity.”

foodforthoughtThe Cornell researchers suggest that a combination of plant chemicals, collectively known as phytochemicals, found mainly in the skin of apples, provide the bulk of the fruit’s anticancer and antioxidant properties. The cooperative activity of these phytochemicals, they argue, has health benefits that are superior to those found in single supplements, which have been widely studied for their antioxidant activities.

What kind of apple eater are you? Compare your munching method with these listed; more detail is shared on the US Apple Association web site: usapple.org.

  1. Compulsive Wedger: This apple eater can´t eat the apple whole; must have perfect, core-free wedges neatly arranged on a plate; each an equal one-eighth of an apple.
  2. Splitter: This apple eater hates to deal with the core and just chops the apple in half, removes the core and munches contentedly.
  3. Circle Stickler: This rebellious sort slices the apple against the grain − across the core, to make round slices.
  4. Top-to-Bottom Type: This methodical muncher starts at the stem and munches all the way down to the bottom. He doesn´t change the apple´s position until one vertical top-to-bottom pass had been completed; then rotates the apple to continue in the next lane until the whole thing is done.
  5. Equator Eater: This muncher takes bites out of the center of the apple all the way around, until the apple looks something like a mushroom on a mirror. The nibbler then attacks the top, and finally the bottom.
  6. The Streak: This eater prefers to eat his apples in the nude − the apple, that is! They peel the skin off one long winding piece.
  7. Core-Free Cruncher: This muncher comes in two personalities. Type B loves gadgets and small appliances, and eats a lot of apples so they can use that nifty “apple corer” gadget. Type A is a seedophobic and doesn´t care what they use – just get those seeds out !
  8. Stem Plucker: Before the first bite, this apple muncher grabs the apple´s stem and twists.

In a recent, incredibly unscientific poll, three out of four people surveyed reported themselves to be Stem Pluckers. Which describes you best? I am a number 2! I slice my apple down the center, and use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds in the apple core – works every time!


schustersmNancy Schuster is a Frontier Extension District family and consumer science agent whose responsibilities include providing information about food safety, nutrition, food science and food preparation. She is based in the Garnett office of the Frontier Extension District and can be reached at 785-448-6826 or email [email protected].


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