Recent research from Western Australia’s (WA) Edith Cowan University has found that polyphenols, a compound found in apples and especially in the apple’s skin, are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
While the study said that Ozzie-bred Pink Lady® apples had the highest amount of polyphenols, South African-grown apples have similar climatic and latitudinal conditions and should share the results says Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s Quality Assurance manager Henk Griessel.
According to Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears and a wholly grower-owned agri business, this research, led by Dr Catherine Bondonno and Dr Nicky Bondonno from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences and Professor Michael Considine from UWA, examined which WA-grown apples were the best for our health based on their content of polyphenols.
Griessel says that such research will be used to breed healthier apples. According to Griessel, the research, published in the journal Food and Function, tested 91 varieties of apples finding that the WA-bred apples had the highest polyphenol content.
Dr Nicky Bondonno said that while Pink Lady® apples are undoubtedly among the tastiest, they are also among the healthiest. The research revealed an important way to get the healthiest bang for your buck from eating apples.
“This research showed us that across all of the apples we sampled, more than half of the polyphenols were found in the skin,” Dr Nicky Bondonno said.
“If you want to get all of the health benefits of eating apples, you’ve got to eat the whole thing.”
“We know that apples are a rich source of polyphenols. Because they’re such a popular fruit, eating apples is one of the most common and most simple ways in which we can add these really important compounds into our diet”.
Dr Catherine Bondonno and the research team tested samples from the skin and flesh of 91 varieties of apple and identified the types with the highest concentration of polyphenols.
“Our analysis found that Pink Lady® contained the most polyphenols, so also wanted to assess the levels of these compounds and the smaller compounds into which they are broken down after we eat them,” she said.
“We gave 30 participants Pink Lady® apples to eat and then measured the levels of these compounds in their blood.”
“Interestingly, we found a very large variation between people in the level of polyphenol compounds in the blood. This indicates that there is a difference in how people absorb and break down these compounds and that the beneficial effects of apples on health may differ from person to person.”
Griessel says that on top of their polyphenol levels, there are plenty of other reasons to eat apples for health, including: High levels of dietary fibre, low glycemic index (GI), good source of potassium, vitamin C, essential minerals and that apples contain B vitamins but no fat, cholesterol or salt.