When Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," he may have had more foresight than he realized.
A recent Canadian government study revealed that Red Delicious apples contain higher levels of disease-preventing antioxidants than other apple varieties. Prior to this discovery, the scientific community acknowledged that dietary antioxidants in apples could neutralize highly reactive molecules known as free radicals in order to potentially prevent different types of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease. However, researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada revealed groundbreaking evidence suggesting that the Red Delicious variety possesses over six times more antioxidant activity than nutritionally inferior Empire apples.
Considering that the average American consumed around 16 pounds of apples in 2003, the Canadian government's fruit-focused survey may make you think twice about the type of apple you pick up from your local farmers' market or grocery store. After reigning Red Delicious, crisp Northern Spy apples demonstrated the second highest concentration of antioxidants, while Cortland, Ida Red, Golden Delicious, and McIntosh followed respectively behind.
For every variety analyzed, apple skin offered a bigger antioxidant punch than apple flesh. Still, you can't judge an apple by its peel: Northern Spy ranked number one, above Red Delicious, for its flesh antioxidant intensity.
At the present time, sweet and crunchy Red Delicious apples account for 27 percent of apple production in the United States and are the nation's most popular fruit. In the past several years, the popularity of the Red Delicious has declined due to the availability of nearly 7500 other apple varieties that are currently grown around the world. Despite oscillations in apple preference and the availability of other fruits, like berries, which may contain higher levels of antioxidants, apples may be a more nutritionally powerful choice because of their year-round availability and time-tested popularity with the general public.