Health & Wellness / Home & Family

Apples… To Peel or Not To Peel?

Bright red apples are generally associated with a bountiful fall harvest in the United States. Despite being thought of as an American fruit, the origins of apples can be traced to Central Asia. Apples were eventually introduced in North America by European colonists. Today, apple trees are cultivated worldwide. China and the United States are the two main countries who lead in apple production and exports. Though tomatoes and bananas tend to top the charts as the most internationally popular fruits, apples are also highly desired.

Packed with nutrition, apples are often consumed for health benefits as well as for their great taste. They are rich with potassium, vitamin C, carbohydrates, fiber and antioxidants. There are over 7,500 different types of apples grown in the world. Distinctions in taste and texture make each variety unique for different uses, from eating raw to baking or making cider. Eating the peel of the apple has many possible health benefits. Numerous studies suggest that the compounds found in the skin of apples can help protect the heart, decrease the risk of diseases, and perhaps even lessen the risk of certain types of cancer. The fiber in the skin can work to reduce the amount of net carbs in the apple. This is important for those with certain health conditions such as diabetes. However, recent controversies have surfaced over whether to peel apples. This is due to fear of ingesting pesticides used to keep the fruit fungi and insect free.

Livestrong Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides support for people affected by cancer, shares that a large apple with the peel intact supplies the following:

  • 116 calories
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 239 milligrams of potassium
  • 3 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 120 international units of vitamin A
  • 9 micrograms of vitamin K

With the skin or peel removed, that same apple loses some nutrients. Per Livestrong Foundation, the apple would have:

  • 104 calories
  • 8 grams of fiber
  • 194 milligrams of potassium
  • 6 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 82 international units of vitamin A
  • 3 micrograms of vitamin k

Environmental Working Group, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, has placed apples on “The Dirty Dozen” list of foods containing the most pesticide residues. The organization shares that 90 percent of conventional apples have detectable pesticide residues. While many people believe that eating organic can solve the problem, it is not a true solution as natural pesticides may still be used in place of synthetic ones. As scientists explore the health consequences of ingesting pesticide residues, and research what levels -if any- might be safe, the consensus is that the nutritional benefits of eating apples with the skin on likely outweighs the risks if the apple has been properly cleaned to limit pesticide exposure. For this reason, apples to be consumed should be thoroughly washed at home before they are eaten, even if they have been factory washed first. Current evidence suggests that tap water alone is ineffective at removing pesticides. Thus, it is best to soak your apples in water with a dash of baking soda for 15 minutes, using a ratio of one teaspoon of baking soda per two cups of water. If you have health concerns, it is best to converse with your medical doctor to determine what is best for you.

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4 years ago

Fruit and vegetable skins contain many valuable substances (including higher levels of antioxidants and other phytonutrients than what’s inside), some of which we probably haven’t yet discovered. If they protect the fruit or vegetable, they might confer the same benefits to us. I never peel anything if I can help it. Carrots are scrubbed, but not peeled. Mashed potatoes have the skins added back in after they’ve spun a few times around the processor (with some milk). I grow my own thin-skinned non-bitter cucumbers (‘Diva’). Another plus is the large number of beneficial microbes (bacteria, fungi) that join the billions of microbes inhabiting our gut, helping us absorb nutrients and attacking foreign invaders that seek to do us harm.

Years ago, the EPA required the chemical industry to re-test their products in order to continue selling them. This re-registration would have cost up to a billion dollars per chemical for all that testing, and, since many of the products were now “off patent”, they decided not to bring them back. The companies now have much safer patented products that they would rather sell. Consumers are willing to pay more for a safer product, and the manufacturers have wisely bowed to this pressure. Chemicals available to the retail trade today are generally less toxic than those sold decades ago. You decide for yourselves, but I don’t peel.

Charles Stogner
4 years ago

It would seem that there are a couple errors in the article where Armstrong Foundation reports that an apple peeled has more more fiber and vitamin C than an unpealed one. The reverse would seem to be true. Please check your facts.

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